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19 September–7 October 2011
Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 44 of the Convention
Concluding observations: Italy
1. The Committee considered the consolidated third and fourth periodic report of Italy (CRC/C/ITA/3-4) at its 1642nd and 1643rd meetings (see CRC/C/SR.1642 and 1643) held on 20 September 2011, and adopted, at its 1668th meeting, held on 7 October 2011, the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the State party’s periodic report (CRC/C/ITA/3-4) and the written reply to its list of issues (CRC/C/ITA/Q/3-4/Add.1) which provided a better understanding of the situation in the State party. The Committee expresses its appreciation for the constructive and open dialogue held with the high-level, cross-sectoral delegation of the State party.
II. Follow-up measures undertaken and progress achieved by the State party
3. The Committee welcomes as positive the adoption of the following legislative measures:
(a) Act No. 62/2011 on the protection of the relationship between mothers in prison and their minor children, in April 2011;
(b) Act No. 112/2011 on the establishment of the National Ombudsperson for Children and Adolescents, in July 2011;
(c) Act No. 38/2006 concerning the fight against the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography also via Internet, in February 2006;
(d) Act No. 54/2006 on provisions on the separation of parents and shared custody of children, in February 2006;
(e) Act No. 296/2006, which makes education mandatory for at least 10 years and increases the minimum age for working from 15 to 16 years, in December 2006;
(f) Act No. 7/2006 on provisions concerning the prevention and prohibition of the practice of female genital mutilation, in January 2006.
4. The Committee also welcomes the ratification of or accession to:
(a) The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, in 2010;
(b) The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto, in 2009;
(c) The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, in 2006;
(d) The Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, in 2007;
5. The Committee also welcomes the following institutional and policy measures:
(a) The renewed mandates of the National Observatory on Children and Adolescents, most recently in 2010;
(b) National Plan of Action and Intervention for the Protection of Rights and Development of Subjects in Developmental Age (2010-2011);
(c) Extraordinary Plan of Intervention for the Development of the Territorial System of Socio-educational Services for Early Childhood (2007-2009);
(d) Establishment of the Committee of Ministers for Policies and Strategic Guidance on the Protection of Human Rights through the Prime Ministerial Decree of 13 April 2007;
(e) Establishment of the Coordinating Committee for Government Activities against Trafficking in Human Beings (2007), the Inter-ministerial Commission for the Support of Victims of Trafficking, Violence and Serious Exploitation (2007) and the Observatory on Trafficking in Human Beings (2007);
(f) National Plan of Action against Poverty and Social Exclusion (2006-2008).
III. Main areas of concern and recommendations
A. General measures of implementation (arts. 4, 42 and 44, para. 6, of the Convention)
The Committee’s previous recommendations
6. The Committee welcomes efforts by the State party to implement the Committee’s concluding observations on the State party’s previous report (CRC/C/15/Add.198, 2003) and on the initial reports under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (CRC/C/OPSC/ITA/CO/1, 2006) and the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict (CRC/C/OPAC/ITA/CO/1 and Corr.1, 2006). However, the Committee regrets that many of its concerns and recommendations have not been addressed or have been insufficiently addressed.
7. The Committee urges the State party to take all measures necessary to address the recommendations that have not been implemented or sufficiently implemented, including those related to coordination, allocation of resources, systematic training on the Convention, non-discrimination, the best interests of the child, the right to an identity, adoption, juvenile justice, and refugee and asylum-seeking children, and to provide adequate follow-up to the recommendations contained in the present concluding observations.
8. The Committee is concerned that the devolution of powers from central to regional and other subnational levels of government has contributed to an inequitable implementation of the Convention at the local level. In this context, it is of concern to the Committee that there exist different coordination mechanisms, including the National Observatory on Children and Adolescents, which may not have the appropriate mandate to effectively coordinate the policies and programmes of the many entities relevant to implementing the rights of the child. The Committee is further concerned that the State-Regions Conference lacks a working group to coordinate the planning and implementation of policies relevant to the rights of children.
9. Recalling that the central Government is responsible for ensuring the coordination of the implementation of the Convention and for providing leadership and the necessary support to the regional governments in this regard, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Review and clarify the role of the National Observatory on Childhood and Adolescence to coordinate the implementation of child rights policies and programmes among all the relevant Ministries and institutions and at all levels. In doing so, the State party is urged to ensure that the National Observatory is strengthened and provided with the necessary human, technical and financial resources to implement child rights policies that are comprehensive, coherent and consistent at the national, regional and municipal levels;
(b) Develop effective mechanisms to ensure a consistent application of the Convention in all regions by strengthening the coordination between the national and regional levels, and adopt national standards such as the Essential Levels for the Provision of Social Services (Livelli Essenziali delle Prestazioni Sociali - LIVEAS).
National plan of action
10. While noting the adoption of the National Plan of Action and Intervention for the Protection of Rights and Development of Subjects in Developmental Age (2010-2011), the Committee is concerned that it has not yet been implemented, that no budget has been allocated and that the process of allocating funds for the Plan of Action at the regional level could further delay its implementation. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned that the Plan of Action lacks a specific monitoring and evaluation system.
11. The Committee recommends that the State party allocate funds for the implementation of the Plan of Action at the national level without delay, and encourage, to the greatest extent possible, the regions to allocate the funds required for activities at the regional level. The Committee also recommends that the State party revise the Plan of Action to include a specific monitoring and evaluation system. It further recommends that the State party ensure that the current (and subsequent) Plan of Action integrates follow-up on the present concluding observations.
12. The Committee is pleased to note that the National Ombudsperson for Children and Adolescents was established by law in July 2011. While welcoming the establishment of Children’s Ombudspersons in several regions, the Committee is concerned that such institutions differ considerably in terms of mandate, composition, structure, resources and appointment and that not all regional Ombudspersons are mandated to receive and consider individual complaints. The Committee regrets that the establishment of an independent national human rights institution has taken considerable time.
13. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure that the new office of the National Ombudsperson for Children and Adolescents is promptly established and that it is provided with sufficient human, technical and financial resources to guarantee its independence and efficacy, in accordance with the Committee’s general comment No. 2 (2002) on the role of independent human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of the rights of the child. It further recommends that the State party ensure uniform and efficient protection and promotion of child rights in all regions, which includes assistance to and coordination of existing regional Children’s Ombudspersons by the National Ombudsperson for Children and Adolescents. The Committee urges the State party to swiftly advance the process of establishing and operationalizing an independent national human rights mechanism, in full accordance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles), to ensure comprehensive and systematic monitoring of human rights, including children’s rights.
Allocation of resources
14. The Committee regrets the lack of information in the report of the State party regarding the implementation of its earlier recommendation on a child-specific analysis of all sectoral budgets across the State party and the regions (CRC/C/15/add.198, para. 9). The Committee is particularly concerned over recent cuts in budgets for education, the non-financing of the 2010 Extraordinary Plan for Development of Social and Educational Services, and about the reduction in funds for the Family Policy, the National Fund for Social Policies and the National Fund for Children and Adolescents. The Committee also expresses its concern at regional disparities in the allocation for and spending on children, including in the area of early childhood, education and health. The Committee is further concerned at the recent deterioration of the State party’s international ranking as regards corruption and the effects this may have on children’s rights. In the light of the current financial situation confronting Italy, the Committee is concerned that services for children may not be protected and sustained.
15. The Committee reiterates its recommendation (CRC/C/15/add.198, para. 9) to undertake a comprehensive analysis of resource allocation for children at the national and regional levels. On the basis of the findings of such analysis, the State party should ensure equitable budget allocation for children throughout the 20 regions, with a focus on early childhood, social services, education and integration programmes for children of migrant and other foreign communities. The Committee recommends that the State party effectively address the issue of corruption and ensure that all services for children are protected from cuts in the current financial situation.
16. The Committee takes note of the creation of a national information system on the care and protection of children and their families, to be concluded in 2012. Nevertheless, the Committee remains concerned at the limited data available on the enjoyment of children’s rights, notably statistics on child victims of violence, children deprived of their family environment (including children in foster care), child victims of economic exploitation, children with disabilities, adopted children, and refugee and asylum-seeking children. The Committee expresses concern at the significant discrepancies in the capacity and effectiveness of regional data collection mechanisms.
17. The Committee urges the State party to ensure that the national information system on the care and protection of children and their families becomes fully operational and has the human, technical and financial resources necessary to be effective in gathering pertinent information throughout the country to strengthen the State party’s ability to promote and protect children’s rights. In particular, the Committee recommends that the State party ensure a fully consistent approach across all regions to effectively measure and address regional disparities.
18. Despite information on some training provided for law enforcement officers and Carabinieri, the Committee regrets that the State party has yet to implement the earlier recommendation (CRC/C/15/Add.198, paras. 19 (d) and 31) on systematic training on children’s rights and the Convention for all professional groups working for or with children, including for law enforcement officers, Carabinieri, prosecutors, judges, lawyers, legal guardians for children (curatori), civil servants, social workers and health professionals, local government officials, teachers and health personnel.
19. The Committee reiterates its recommendation to ensure systematic, mandatory and ongoing training on child rights for all professionals working with and for children, in particular law enforcement officers, Carabinieri, judges and penitentiary staff.
Child rights and the business sector
20. The Committee welcomes that the Constitution sets the general obligation for business to respect the principles set forth in the Constitution and notes that corporate social responsibility is promoted, regulated and implemented under voluntary business initiatives. It also notes that further legislation on corporate social responsibility, including tax exemptions for companies fulfilling certain parameters, is under discussion in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies (Act No. 386 and Act No. 59, respectively). The Committee is nevertheless concerned that children’s rights have not been sufficiently considered in such legislation. Additionally, the Committee is concerned at allegations regarding the use of forced child labour in the harvest of cotton imported by European countries, including Italy, who by doing so could facilitate the exploitation of child labour in exporting countries. The Committee notes that this subject is under investigation by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and that the European Parliament is discussing a draft resolution calling for, inter alia, the Council and the Commission to set up an investigation committee with temporary withdrawal of the generalized system of preferences in the cotton sector until the ILO is able to report on its mission.
21. Whereas the primary responsibility to ensure protection and respect for children’s rights by State and non-State actors lies with the State, the Committee recommends specific inclusion of child rights concerns in the legislation under consideration by the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies to enact corporate human rights responsibility parameters, with a specific reference to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Moreover, it would be important that the law provide for the supervising bodies to be able to refer to the judicial authority in cases of abuses of children and human rights, including regarding activities of companies domiciled in Italy, and of their business partners overseas. Additionally, the Committee recommends that the State party engage its responsibility within the European Union to ensure that cotton originated from child labour (produced in Europe or elsewhere) does not enter into the European market, using its leverage to ensure that children’s rights are respected within European trade agreements. Additionally, the State party could provide for a clear framework under proposed legislation for effective monitoring to ensure that companies domiciled in Italy do not contribute to the use of child labour through their supply chains or business partners abroad.