UN Admonishes Italy on Discrimination, Immigration & Detention

Discrimination, immigration and detainees' rights were areas of focus for the Committee's recommendations, which were greatly supported by the reports of Italian NGOs.

The Human Rights Committee (HRC) was briefed on the situation of civil rights and freedoms during the meeting held March 6-10 in Geneva. Representatives of the government presented their official report, while NGOs advocating for human rights, including CILD and some of its partners, presented their own reports, highlighting relevant issues not appropriately taken into consideration in the official records.

The list of human rights issues presented by these organizations included immigration policies, the penitentiary system, conditions of detention, the integration of Roma minorities and violence against women. This list was extremely relevant for the HRC, as most of what the NGOs highlighted was addressed in the Committee's recommendations.

HRC focuses on three main areas:

  • Discrimination: The law against discrimination is incomplete, with no norms forbidding homophobia. Italy is also recommended to keep its commitments on the matter of civil unions, still lacking of a necessary regulation on stepchild adoption and on the rights of adopted children. Other alarming discrimination involves hate speech and race crimes, especially against the Roma and Sinti communities, which are together an object of persistent segregation. The state is thus recommended to make efforts in order to avoid their eviction and the creation of segregated camps, in order to foster their social inclusion.
  • Immigration: There is the need to stop addressing illegality as an actual crime and put limits on the detention of migrants, which has to be the very last measure to be taken into consideration. Also, it is recommended not to perform collective repatriations, as they have to be based on individual assessments and ensure migrants' protection through bilateral agreements. Special attention needs to be given to unaccompanied minors so that their protection and well-being is ensured.
  • Justice: Italy is recommended to make an effort to reduce overcrowding in prisons, improve conditions of detention and pay special attention to the situation of over-represented foreigners. The need for a regulation on torture crimes is again highlighted.

HRC's work support civil society's work

Additional remarks concern the right to privacy (with a strong concern on the use of interceptions and practices of data retention) and the right to access information (with a focus on the effective implementation of the new FOIA).

The HRC's recommendations are not binding and do not prescribe sanctions for non-compliance. Nevertheless, these recommendations will support the work of the many NGOs advocating for civil rights.

As Patrizio Gonnella, president of Antigone/CILD, put it, the recommendations will hopefully make Italy understand that respecting human rights its absolute priority.