Reply to List of Issues
Reply to List of Issues
COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
WRITTEN REPLIES BY THE GOVERNMENT OF ITALY CONCERNING THE LIST
OF ISSUES (CRC/C.10/WP.2) RECEIVED FROM THE COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS
OF THE CHILD IN CONNECTION WITH THE INITIAL REPORT OF ITALY
Received on 6 October 1995
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS
OF THE CHILD
Reply of the Italian Government to the list of issues to be taken up in connection with consideration of the initial report of Italy (CRC/C/8/Add.18)
Please provide further information on the implementation of the Convention by the courts, has the Convention been invoked before the courts or have the courts taken account of provisions of the Convention in their decisions?
The Convention has been ratified by Italy by Law No. 176 of 27 May 1991. By virtue of this law all the provisions of the Convention became to all intents and purposes norms of the Italian legal system and, as such, have to be applied directly by the judges of the Italian courts. Bearing in mind the normal duration of penal and civil cases in the various stages of proceedings, there are as yet relatively few judgments that make express reference to the Convention. In this connection it should also be recalled that the greater part of the rules of the Convention have an identical or very similar content with respect to Italian legislation passed either before or after ratification of the Convention. For this reason, too, it is not by any means easy to find express references to the Convention when reviewing the relevant sentences.
By way of example, however, some abstracts of sentences making specific mention of Arts. 6, 7, 8 and 30 of the Convention are attached hereto (annex no. A).
Special attention to the provisions of the Convention is being paid by the juvenile courts and the public prosecutor's offices attached to them (Annex A). Respect of the Convention has often been invoked before the courts by the various bodies concerned with social protection and also by the lawyers acting for the defence.
The judiciary acts issued by the judges of the Italian juvenile courts in the course of their ordinary jurisdictional activities often appeal to respect of the provisions contained in the Convention when they apply Italian law in the attempt to put to rights measures issued by judges in countries that do not respect the principles of the Convention.
By way of example, attached hereto is a documentation attesting the various initiatives taken by the public prosecutor's office attached to the Naples juvenile court with a view to ensuring more immediate and total respect of the Convention. Initiatives along similar lines have also been taken by other similar offices (Annex A)
Please indicate the present status of the draft framework law on minors referred to, inter alia, in para. 4 of the report.
The draft framework law has been submitted to Parliament for examination and also to the various central and local administrations that are more directly concerned with safeguarding the rights of the child.
In view of the number and the complexity of the problems raised by the draft framework law, a special committee (
Commissione Speciale per l'Infanzia
) has been set up in Parliament for the purpose of setting up the principles of a new overall legislation.
As part of the implementation of Law No. 559 of 23 December 1993, 1995 saw the setting up of a National Centre for the Protection of Children (
Centro Nazionale per la Tutela dell'Infanzia
) and a National Observatory for the Problems of Minors (
Osservatorio Nazionale sui Problemi dei Minori
In fact, before systematically overhauling Italian legislation, in the light of the principles contained in the Convention it seemed quite indispensable to have at disposal a series of statistical and other data concerning the status of minors in Italy and then, on the basis of this information, make an overall appreciation of the legislative and administrative interventions needed to strengthen and improve application of the principles enounced by the Convention.
Please provide information on the measures taken to develop mechanisms for the determination of appropriate indicators and to improve mechanisms for the collection of statistical data and other information on the status of children as bases for designing programmes to implement the Convention.
The Central Institute of Statistics (
Instituto Central di Statistica - ISTAT
), the Ministry of Justice (and, more particularly, the Ministry's Central Office for Juvenile Justice), the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health are systematically participating in the collection the data relating to the status of minors in the country and drawing up statistical tabulations of various kinds about different aspects of the juvenile condition in Italy, considering foreign as well as Italian minors. Particular interest attaches to the data collected by the National Council for Labour and the Economy (
Consiglio Nazionale dell'Economia e del Lavoro - CNEL
). Various interested administrations are also participating in the work of collecting and processing data at the local level.
It should also be noted that the Ministry of Justice have set up a monitoring service with a view to survey any interpretative distortions and making sure that the rights of children can effectively be exercised, especially as regards guardianship, adoption and some other new institutes in the field of criminal procedure. Moreover the same Ministry, well aware of the social delicacy of juridical protection of children, have created an information system on justice for minors and adolescents (S.I.G.M.A), using to this end the positive experiences previously gained at the courts of Lecce and Rome, though complementing the system with some additional functions (automation of the administrative offices, creation of case records for minors, creation of a national observatory for children, not least in support of the intervention planning activities carried out by the administration of this sector of justice) and implementing the technological conversions into a standard-multivendor operational environment.
As already mentioned, the National Centre for the Protection of Children was set up in 1995. It has the following tasks:
- obtaining all the data (statistical, legislative, case-law, bibliographic, etc.) concerning minors; obtaining all the results of the research carried out by university institutes in the juvenile sector;
- mapping the resources available within the State territory in support of children in difficulty;
- integrating and correlating the aforesaid data, breaking them down further and interpreting them, pinpointing the need for further information, and distilling from them the problems that call for new intervention typologies or a realignment of already existing interventions;
- evaluating the social impact of legislative and administrative measures in the juvenile sector, analyzing the results of these measures, not least in cost-benefit terms;
- preparing periodic reports about the condition of children in draft form and submitting them first to the Observatory for an opinion and then to the Ministry for final approval;
- drawing the attention of universities, research centres and other competent sectoral bodies to themes that are coming to the fore and would merit further technical development and practical analysis;
- drawing up pilot projects for the better protection of juveniles:
- collaborating in the implementation of national planning also by carrying out, monitoring and critically assessing projects proposed/planned by the Observatory;
- promoting seminars and meetings and - at the request of national and local authorities - formation meetings for officials intended to attain specific
- making available to the interested ministries, local authorities, universities, scholars and foreign organizations all the data and legislative, jurisprudential and bibliographic supports at their disposal for a global development of the culture for the protection of juveniles.
Please describe the national institution(s), if any, which have been created to promote the rights of the child and to monitor the implementation of children's rights.
Numerous public authorities in Italy have the task of promoting respect of the rights of the child. A distinction must nevertheless be made between bodies that traditionally form part of the public structure and those that were recently created as a result and consequence of Italy's ratification of the Convention, the new needs brought to the fore by social development and the new concepts in the matter of safeguarding the rights of children.
In this connection it is particularly interesting to mention the setting up of a Department of the Family and Social Affairs (
Dipartimento della Famiglia e degli Affari Sociali
) within the framework of the Prime Minister's Office. Among others, this Department has been assigned specific tasks in connection with the rights and the protection of children.
The Convention itself has in recent years brought about a gradual acceleration of the process of safeguarding children in various sectors.
Italy's initial report already mentioned that a Central Office for Juvenile Justice (
Ufficio Centrale per la Giustizia Minorile
) had been created within the Ministry of Justice by means of Law No. 21 of 29 (2) February 1992. This office now performs the function of orientating and coordinating all the activities connected with the relationship between juveniles and law and organizing the services and interventions for which it is responsible in their various articulations and at all levels of administrative responsibility.
Law No.64 of 15 January 1994 instituted - again within the framework of the Ministry of Justice - a Central Authority to perform the functions connected with the repatriation of children in accordance with Art.3 of the Hague Convention, the recognition and execution of the decisions regarding the assignment of children and the re-establishment of the assignment within the meaning of Art.2 of the European Convention signed in Luxembourg on 20 May 1980, and the treatment of the competences in cases of international abduction of minors within the meaning of Art.6 of the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980.
The National Observatory for the Problems of Minors was set up in 1995 as part of the Department of the Family in the Prime Minister's Office. The Observatory, which receives the previously mentioned data collected and processed by the National Centre, has the following tasks:
- analyzing the real situation of children and adolescents in our country, the problems that call for interventions of protection and promotion, and the real resources available for this purpose;
- evaluating the impact of legislation (including legislation not directly concerned with the world of minors) on children and adolescents;
- evaluating the implementation of the laws relating to children by monitoring their efficacy, highlighting any implementation shortcomings and defining the essential instruments needed to render them fully effective;
- drawing up and promoting operational programmes and pilot projects to improve the conditions of life of youngsters in their formative years;
- defining the intervention priorities in the field of juvenile protection;
- coordinating the interventions of the interested public administrations;
- making an annual report to Parliament about the condition of children and the more important problems to be solved and preparing an outline for the periodic report to the United Nations about the implementation in our country of the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989.
Ever since its institution, the Observatory have subdivided their labours into the following four study areas: 1) international conventions concerning children; 2) violence perpetrated on children; 3) relations between children and television; and 4) services for children.
A Committee for the Protection of Foreign Minors (
Comitato per la Tutela dei Minori Stranieri
) was set up within the Department in March 1994. The activities of this committee will be referred to in response to question No.22.
It should here be mentioned that specific powers for safeguarding the rights of children have been conferred upon local territorial authorities.
Lastly, numerous nongovernment organizations at both the national and the local level are performing important services in favour of children; the greater part of these organizations receive adequate State funding to cover their costs.
Over and above the central administrations already mentioned in the Report, the following institutions are competent for operating in the juvenile sector:
- the Regions, who have tasks of legislating, planning and coordinating social policies in favour of children;
- the Municipalities, as also the Associations of Municipalities and the Mountain Communities (
), who concern themselves with the social and welfare services for children and are called upon to act in harmony with the health services.
- management of nursery schools and leisure time activities for children (day centres, game collections (
), summer and winter holiday camps, promotion of sporting activities, etc.) also fall within the competence of the municipalities, who are also called upon to collaborate with the juvenile courts in favour the juvenile population in particular difficulty (situations of abandonment, adoption, foster placement, reporting of cases of maltreatment, truancy, etc.);
- the Local Health Units (
Unità Sanitarie Locali
) have tasks of health prophylaxis and assistance: pediatric services, family advisory offices, school medicine, and special services for expectant mothers, childbirth and newborn babies.
The reform of the local authorities sanctioned by Law No.142 of 8 June 1990 also transferred to the Municipalities the functions previously performed by the Provinces (essentially planning in relation to the territory of competence).
The juvenile courts have competence in matters of adoption, assignment to and control of orphanages and homes for children. In penal matters, moreover, the law envisages that they should cooperate with local authorities in interventions to take the place of detention (occupational training, job-finding, leisure time activities, etc.).
As far as school services are concerned, it is important to mention that the provincial education offices, especially as regards the insertion and integration of disabled children, are required to interact with the local authorities and the health services, just as in all matters connected with truancy they have to collaborate with both the juvenile courts and the local authorities.
Please describe the steps taken to ensure the effective coordination between administrative structures, at the municipal, provincial and regional levels as well as the national, involved in the implementation of the provisions of the Convention.
In keeping with an orientation that has always been followed in Italy and on several occasions has also been reaffirmed by the Constitutional Court, the State is responsible for the full compliance of its international obligations. This principle is absolute and brooks no derogation of any kind, not even in matters that, on the basis of the subdivision of competencies between the State and the local authorities (regions, province and municipalities), fall wholly within the tasks assigned to the local authorities.
With a view to meeting the needs of proper coordination between the State and the local authorities, there has now been created a Permanent Conference for Relations between the State and the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces of Trent and Bolzano (
Conferenza Permanente per i Rapporti tra lo Stato e le Regioni e le Province Autonome di Trento e Bolzano
), which has the task of assuring harmonization of initiatives in full respect of the international commitments assumed by Italy. The Conference was specially convened on 13 July 1995 to examine the problem of children and on that occasion approved the "Guidelines for the Realization of Urgent Interventions in Favour of the Juvenile Population" (
Linee Guida per la realizzazione di interventi urgenti a favore della populazione minorile
). With a view to promoting and improving the condition of children in keeping with the principles set out in the Convention, the State and the Regions have reaffirmed in this document the logic of territorial planning of the interventions that have to be aimed at each individual minor. The document also draws attention to the need for immediately activating the social and assistance services wherever they do not yet exist and realizing and strengthening the socio-educational interventions in support of the self-construction social integration of the person. More particularly, the document contains a detailed series of intervention lines in favour of families in difficulty, for the protection of expectant mothers and children taken away from their natural families, for reducing early school leaving, and training of social workers.
Within the ambit of their general attributions, the Ministry of Justice has set up a National Commission that, inter alia, performs consultative functions. Moreover, in compliance with Art. 13 of Law Decree No.272 of 1989, the Ministry have also appointed similar commissions at the regional level. The commissions are intended to perform an action of propulsion, planning and coordination in the field of prevention, rehabilitation and social reintegration of children who become subject to measures of the competent juvenile courts.
The commissions also perform promotional tasks in connection with the provision of new services to meet the needs of the population of the territories falling within their competence, especially as regards the groups of juveniles in danger of falling foul of the law.
Please provide further information on the steps being taken to implement article 4 of the Convention with regards to the allocation "to the maximum extent of (...) available resources for the rights of the child". What guarantees exist to ensure that local authorities are also guided by this principle in their policy making and that children throughout the country are protected against adverse effects of any reductions in budgetary allocations, especially to the social sector?
To what extent is international cooperation designed to foster the implementation of the Convention? What proportion of international aid is allocated to programmes for children?
Italy participate and follow the various programmes for the protection of the child both at the level of the United Nations and at the regional level (European Union and Council of Europe).
Within the ambit of bilateral cooperation, several countries, especially in Latin America, have asked Italy (in the framework of the PRODERE programm) to give its assistance to the drafting of national laws concerning safeguards for the rights of children and the social protection of children. In this work of international cooperation, the Italian contribution is obviously inspired by respect of international standards and, more particularly, the principles set out in the Convention.
Furthermore, the Italian government have decided to use to the maximum extent the resources made available by the European union to sustain the fight against social exclusion (see European Poverty Programme 3), interventions for the reinsertion of young people excluded from the world of work (F.S.E.), the integration in society and work of disabled minors (Helios 2 and Horizon), and the development of work for young people (Youthstart).
Please indicate the measures adopted to make the principles and provisions of the Convention known among adults and children.
The text of the Convention has been extensively publicized; it was published, in its Italian translation in the official Gazette and in numerous other law collections. Some researches connected with the Convention have also enjoyed widespread circulation, generally in the form of unabridged publication, cases in point being
Codice Internaz-ionale dei diritti del minore
(International Code of the Rights of the Child) and
La Covenzione dei diritti del minore e l'ordinamento italiano
(The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Italian Legal System), both edited by Maria Rita Saulle.
The Ministry of Education have also made arrangements for including teaching concerning the principles of the Convention in the school syllabuses.
The Ministry of Justice has expressly added to all proqramms falling within its juveniles services (in the field of schools, leisure and cultural activities) special mention to the principles and the rules of the Convention. Special emphasis is given to the rights of the child in all social services.
In what languages spoken by the larger refugee and immigration groups is the Convention available?
Foreign children who come into contact with the services of the Italian juvenile courts are informed about the rules and regulations and their rights in their own mother tongue by officials who speak their language and are specifically charged with this task by the Ministry of Justice.
What measures have been taken to incorporate education about the Convention in training or retraining programmes for professionals working with or for children such as educators, government officials, social workers and health workers?
Training programs of personnel and experts (social assistants, educators and psychologists) of the Ministry of justice that deal with problems concerning children make express reference to the Convention. All judicial offices dealing with problems of children have full knowledge that the Convention is a law of the State.
Members of the judiciary dealing with children are given the opportunity to attend special seminars on the rights of the child, including the provisions of the Convention.
What concrete measures have been taken or are foreseen to make the report widely available to the public at large in the light of article 44, para. 6 of the Convention?
children constitute a further form of guarantee against discrimination.
The National Committee for the European Campaign (
Comitato Nazionale per la Campagna Europea
) includes among its members numerous associations, including some. who represent immigrants and gipsies, who are promoting numerous initiatives against discrimination of all types.
The Ministry of Education are paying constant attention to the theme of the struggle against racial prejudice and every form of intolerance and discrimination within the wider framework of intercultural education (see Ministry Circular No.205 of 22 July 1990
"La Scuola dell'obbligo e gli alunni stranieri: l'educazione intercultulrale"
(Compulsory schooling and foreign students: intercultural education); Ministry Circular No.138 of 27 April 1993
"Razzismo e antisemitismo oggi: il ruolo della Scuola"
(Racism and antisemitism today: the role of the school); and Ministry Circular No.73 of 2 March 1994
"Il dialogo interculturale e la convivenza democratica"
(Intercultural dialogue and democratic coexistence).
These ministry circulars are further supported by similar statements made by the National Education Council (
Consiglio Nazionale della Pubblica Istruzione
) and in the school curricula.
Discrimination against children subject to measures taken by the juvenile courts and the reinsertion of such children
The Ministry of Justice have issued numerous instructions about the organization and management - -either directly or by means of appropriate conventions -- of social services designed to ensure better environmental reinsertion of children who have in some way become involved with the juvenile courts. More particularly, the Ministry have stipulated conventions with the social services of the municipalities (for environmental reinsertion), the regional governments (for occupational training and health assistance), the Italian Cultural and Sport Association (
Associazione Italiana Cultura e Sport
) (for cultural and sporting activities), and the Italian Volunteer Foundation (
Fondazione Italiana per il Volontariato
) (for psychological assistance).
In keeping with the regulations set out in the Convention, the Ministry of Justice have made arrangements for a wide range of opportunities designed to meet the territorially specific needs of users. More particularly, mention should here be made of the following projects currently in the implementation phase:
in Palermo. This projects aims at the creation of a centre where the adolescents of the Borgonuovo neighbourhood can meet and avail themselves of training courses and recreational, sporting and cultural facilities, with the ultimate aim of avoiding the formation of criminal habits. The project was drawn up and will be implemented in collaboration with the Municipality of Palermo and competent private social organizations;
in Bologna. A project for the city and its surroundings that aims at the social insertion of children and youngster less than twenty-one years of age who have been incriminated before the courts without being detained. The project is to be managed in collaboration with the Municipality of Bologna.
(Young people's point) in Florence. A project with preventive goals and involving the setting up of an observatory for adolescent problematics and coordinating the social workers active in this sector. The project is being managed in collaboration with the Tuscany Region and the Province and Municipality of Florence;
(A future for young people) at Nisida, Naples. This project aims at creating spaces and making them available to young people, foreigners included, in need of being looked after, organizing cultural and training centres, and temporarily accommodating in communities young people who for family reasons have to be taken out of their natural family environment. The project is to be realized on the island of Nisida and will be administered by the Campania Region and the province and Municipality of Naples;
in Bari. This project aims at getting imprisoned youngsters to participate in a series of training courses and work projects for the improvement of public green spaces. It is managed by private social organizations through a local cooperative (
(Strangers) in Turin. This project aims at sensitizing the courts and making them familiar with the cultural characteristics of young North Africans who live in the Piedmont Region. The project is being run in collaboration with local associations specializing in these problematics;
in Genoa. The aim of this project is to create a day centre offering hospitality to young people who have become involved in the penal circuits or in danger of becoming so involved and inducing them to engage in formative, recreational and scholastic activities, with the general aim of getting youngsters who for various reasons are not being properly looked after by their families to abandon the streets.
As far as children of Gipsy groups are concerned, it seems appropriate to mention
, an association that seeks to mediate between the public powers and the Gipsy groups in the endeavour of safeguarding the rights of these groups and facilitating specific interventions designed to remedy situations of difficulty.
The priority commitment is concentrated in such sectors as housing, school, preserving the Gipsy language and culture, animation, cultural event, and work.
Turning more specifically to school and schooling, sector of more immediate interest for children, that a series of conventions signed between the association and the Ministry of Education, the first in 1965, introduced the experiment of organizing special classes in state schools for schooling Gipsy children and making up leeway to permit their eventual inclusion in ordinary classes.
are also very active in the field of pedagogical experimentation and coordinate a number of initiatives of the public schools; they mange a pedagogical data bank (projects, implementation of laws and regulations, statistics, schooling of Gipsy children) and organize the updating of teachers and school administrators at both the national and the local level. However, the principal and basic objective of the association is and remains the insertion of Gipsy children in the ordinary school system. To this end they have organized meetings and training courses, including some at the international level. In particular, following a report made by
(the principal organization representing Gipsies in the international organizations) and in collaboration With the National Association of Pedgogists (
Pedagogisti - ANPE
), training courses are now being organized for the formation of cultural mediators, who will be selected from among the more motivated social workers and Gipsies who are particularly well inserted in the country's social life; these trainees will have the specific task of mediating the numerous cases of incommunicability between the culture of the host country and the culture of these minority groups within its territory.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Education have permitted the conditional registration at school (i.e. registration with reserve) of children who attend only irregularly in expectation of the regularization of the position of their families. In this connection it should be underscored that this positive solution was adopted with explicit reference to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and the unconditional entitlement of the child to an education that follows therefrom. Moreover, the subsequent Ministry Circular N.374 of 6 April 1995 made it clear that the reserve, even if it remains in being, lapses definitively at the moment the student passes the final examination of the course of elementary, secondary or higher education.
A very large number of normative and administrative measures to safeguard disabled children have recently been adopted.
In application of Law No.2898 of 11 October 1990, which instituted the monthly attendance allowance for disabled children, the number of schoolchildren assisted by the Ministry of the Interior in the last four years was as follows: 2209 as of 31 December 1992, 3400 as of 31 December 1993, 4472 as of 31 December 1994, and 7008 as of 31 August 1995.
The accompaniment allowance for civilian disabled, disciplined in general terms by Law No.18 of 11 February 19980 and Law No.508 of 21 November 1988, was granted to the following numbers of schoolchildren: 35,467 as of 31 December 1992, 35,788 as of 31 December 1993, 35,952 as of 31 December 1994, and 35,627 as of 31 August 1995.
The figures concerning the grant of the special accompaniment allowance for blind children and the communication allowance in favour of deaf children who have not yet learnt to speak (Law No.508 of 21 November 1988) are considerably smaller.
Lastly, as regards the period prior to the passing of the aforementioned Law No.508/1988, it should here be mentioned that the Constitutional Court, by means of sentence No.88 dated 8-15 March 1993, declared Art.1 of Law No.406 of 28 March 1983 to be illegitimate to the extent to which it does not envisage the accompaniment allowance it disciplines to be paid also to totally blind children who are less than eighteen years of age.
In view of the information contained in para.14 of the report, please provide further details of the measures taken and machinery created to ensure that the best interests of the child are protected in all actions concerning children.
The initial Italian report contains numerous references to the mechanisms for protecting the interests of children. By way of example, we may here recall the institution of the tutelary judge within the ambit of the juvenile courts, as also the procedures envisaged by family legislation and in relation to the grant of asylum.
Please provide further information on how the views of the child are taken into account in practice in cases of the separation of a child's parents.
In the greater part of separation cases, the procedure envisages the personal appearance of the spouses before a judge, generally the Court President, and at the same hearing, in the course of which the judge adopts all the measures deemed to be in the interest of the parents and their under-age offspring.
Although the intervention possibilities of the judge are in actual practice limited to respecting the joint will of the parties, he is always in a position to order the offspring to be heard if he deems this useful for the purpose of safeguarding their interests.
A recent bill, moreover, lays it down that the competent social service must always be available to render the possibility of the children being heard moreeffective.
Please provide further information on the possibilities which exist for children to obtain medical counselling without parental consent.
Always provided that they are sufficiently old and capable of safeguarding their physical state in an autonomous and responsible manner, children, even though they are not yet of age, may freely obtain the necessary medical assistance without direct consent of the parents.
Furthermore, several of the existing health structures (including the family advisory offices and the local health units) operate services for adolescents, where minors may obtain information and advice on social and health matters.
In the event of a request for the interruption of a pregnancy being made by a woman of less than eighteen years of age, Art.12 of the law of 22 May 1978 calls for the assent of the person who exercises parental authority or acts as her legal guardian.
Nevertheless, during the first ninety days, always provided that there are serious reasons that make it impossible or undesirable to consult the persons exercising parental authority or legal guardianship, or if they refuse their assent or express opinions that are in conflict with each other, the advisory bureau or other socio-sanitary structure, or a physician of the is concerned, including the right not to receive any religious instruction at all. This principle derives from a sentence of the Constitutional Court (No.13 of 1991), which makes it quite clear that those who do not wish to avail themselves of the teaching of the Catholic religion may opt in favour of any of the following:
a. didactic and formative activities of an alternative character organized by the school;
b. individual study and/or research activities, with the assistance of the teaching personnel;
c. free study and/or research activities, i.e. without the assistance of the teaching personnel;
d. leaving the school premises or absence therefrom during the period in which religious instruction is being given.
The activities referred to in a. are left to the free initiative of the individual schools in the general framework of a policy intended to extend their autonomy.
In accordance with the instructions imparted by the Ministry of Education and in compliance with the agreements stipulated with the various religious denominations, the practical solution given to the problem of religious instruction must respect the following two principles:
a. religious instruction must not be imparted in accordance with timetables or modalities that could have discriminating effects on any of the students;
b. forms of religious instruction in which the teaching of religion becomes intermingled with the programmes of other disciplines must not be contemplated.
Particular attention is given to the problems of religious freedom for all juveniles that have to deal with juvenile criminal services.
Please provide information on how the balance between respect for the child's right to privacy and the duty of parents to take responsibility for their children is achieved.
The Italian system is to a very large underlain by the principle that the family, and more particularly the parents, have a primary responsibility in guiding children in all phases of growth. Notwithstanding this privileged relationship between parents and their under-age children, there exist various structures, especially at the local level, that permit interventions of various kinds to furnish any necessary assistance, put an end to anomalous situations and, more generally, ensure and safeguard the rights of the children,
Not only may children have recourse to the social, health, school and other services, but protection of their rights is fully assured also when the relationship between the parents or between the parents and the children enters into a state of crisis.
From the juridical point of view, in particular, protection of the rights of the child is assured by the figure of the tutelary judge and, as far as specific competence is concerned, by the juvenile courts (
tribunali per i minorenni
). In the more extreme cases, Italian legislation envisages that the interests of the minor are to be safeguarded to the point, if necessary, of depriving the parents of their authority over the child and ordering the minor to be removed from the family environment.
19. Please provide further information on the measures taken to prevent the ill-treatment of children. In addition, are there complaints procedures which can be used by children themselves in the case of their abuse or ill-treatment? In this connection, please indicate whether "a child abuse hot line" exist and, if the answer is yes, whether its use is widespread throughout the country.
Italy has been active in this sector for a long time past and various initiatives have been taken to ensure an adequate social action and, above all, information for preventing the ill-treatment of children. Among others, the National Observatory for the Problems of Minors have set up a working group to analyze and examine the various situations that are collectively referred to as "violence perpetrated on children" (
A hot line, the so-called "Blue Telephone" (
) was set up in 1990 for the specific purpose of facilitating the denunciation of abuse or ill-treatment of children, making available more precise knowledge about this type of violence, and providing all the necessary assistance. At present, the Blue Telephone provides a toll-free national telephone number for children under fourteen years of age and a similar toll--free service for adolescents and adults. Blue Telephone activities are well known in all parts of the national territory and have become a consolidated part of the everyday reality of children in Italy.
The consultancy services furnished by Blue Telephone assume concrete form through a series of aids that may be of a psychological, psychopedagogical or legal character. The problematics reported to the service by children and adults cover a very wide field and range from simple curiosity to outright abuse.
Blue Telephone enjoys congruous funding under the terms of the state budget and, over and above providing the necessary aid and assistance to those who turn to this
child-abuse hot line, makes it possible for the authorities to collect information and data of various kinds that can subsequently be utilized for drawing up social policies effectively in line with the needs of children.
In the period 1990-1994, Blue Telephone received an average of more than 120 calls per day. In 1994 the service instituted a shortened, emergency-type telephone number and this led to t a very substantial increase in the number of daily calls.
Over and above Blue Telephone and various other social services of a national characters, the Regions have pledged themselves to set up so-called Public Protection offices (
Uffici di pubblica tutela
), which will have the specific task of looking after and protecting the interests of weak subjects and, not least among them, those of children.
As far as these safeguard provisions are concerned, any citizen or the minor directly involved may denounce cases of abuse or ill-treatment to the social services or, if they prefer, to the courts. The services attached to the courts will however intervention for preventive purposes whenever they note that in the personal relations between the parents and the minor there subsist conditions that imply a risk of abuse or ill--treatment or receive third-party information to this effect.
With respect to the implementation of article 25 of the Convention, what systems and procedures exist for the regular monitoring of the treatment of children placed in institutions? What steps are being taken to ensure that staff working in such institutions are sufficiently trained and are informed about the Convention?
As regards children entrusted to the public assistance institutions, the control system as envisaged by Art.9 of Law No.184/1983 is entrusted to the tutelary judge. In the case of children entrusted to the penal services, on the other hand, control of the manner in which they are treated is constant and in the hands of the so-called supervisory magistrate (
Magistrato di orveglianza
); more generally, this judge has the task of making sure that the measures taken are legitimate and that the institutions perform their functions in a regular manner.
All the personnel concerned with the categories of children mentioned above undergo professional training in conformity with the concepts set out in the convention.
In view of the information contained in paras. 115 and 116 of the report, please indicate the measures being taken to ensure that the administrative and judicial bodies involved with procedures for adoption and foster placement or similar alternative manner to ensure the protection of the rights of the child.
Institutionalized procedures aimed at coordinating the activities of the judiciary authorities with those of the administration in the matter of safeguarding the rights of children have been in existence for some time past. As far as the procedures for adoption, assignment and application of measures alternative to detention are concerned, each individual case is examined by means of a coordinated intervention of the various services. More particularly, the attorney's offices attached to the various juvenile courts act in close coordination with the interested police forces and the social protection services to ensure a homogenous and all-embracing intervention.
Is the Government considering the possibility of ratifying the 1993 Hague CVonventionon the protection of children and cooperation in respect of intercountry adoption?
The Ministry of Justice and Pardons have expressed an opinion in favour of signing and ratifying the 1993 Hague convention on the protection of children and cooperation in respect of adoption of children from another country. Nevertheless, it should here be recalled that Convention has not so far been ratified by any member state of the European Union and the of the sixty countries that participated in the preparation of the Convention only five have actually ratified it.
With reference to articles 9 and 10 of the Convention, please provide information on the outcome of cases concerning the right of the child to maintain personal relations and direct contacts with both parents, especially in those cases where his/her parents reside in different States.
The general orientation of Italian jurisprudence in matters concerning the protection of children is substantially based on the principle that precedence must be accorded to assuring, recuperating and stabilizing the affective relationship between under-age children and their parents. When deciding juvenile assignment issues, the competent judiciary authorities have always sought to ensure that the children concerned maintained personal relations and direct contacts with both the parents, and this even in cases where one of the parents resides abroad (
Please provide further information on the measure
in place and the criteria which exist to ensure that the identification of families and children in need as well as the provision of social and welfare services, including with regard to the availability of day care centres for pre-school children and public health centres, services for substance abuse, health care education, prevention of childhood accidents and family support programmes do not vary from region to region.
Competence in matters concerning social services for minors is distributed between the central government, the regions and the municipalities. More particularly, responsibility for carrying out activities connected with assistance and welfare rests with the regions. There are also private social centres that enjoy public funding and are appropriately supervised by the competent authorities.
In the strict sense suggested by the question, however, the delicate sector of assistance for children is regulated by laws and measures on a national basis that ensure uniform treatment in all parts of the country. Nevertheless, it is left to the discretion of individual regions and/or municipalities to provide at the local level services that are more extensive than minimum the state guarantees throughout the country.
Please provide information on any difficulties encountered and progress achieved in implementing the national plan which has been developed to encourage school attendance and to combat the phenomenon of school drop-outs (Para. 169 of the report).
The Ministry of Education, already considerable time ago, got under way a plan to avoid school dispersion.
This plan, which is still in an experimental phase, has however been promoted only in particular areas.
By means of a Circular Letter dated 9 August 1994, the Minister of Education set up a National observatory, as well as similar observatories at each provincial education office, to monitor both the magnitude and the causes of the phenomenon of school dispersion throughout the national territory and to suggest remedies to reduce or eliminate it.
In view of the recent adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 49/184 proclaiming the United Nations Decade of Human Rights Education, has the Government considered the possibility of using this opportunity to incorporate education about the Convention into school curricula?
The terms of reference of a study committee already at work within the Ministry of Education require it to bring the teaching of "civic education" (
), included in the syllabuses of schools of all kinds and at all levels, into line with the educational motifs set out in the most recent international documents (Convention on the rights of the child, Convention, Recommendations, Resolutions concerning the prevention of racism, intercultural education, reception of foreign students, etc.), though without in any way modifying its basic reference to the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man.
Do mechanisms exist at the community level for the
participation of children in local decision-making, including with respect to the planning and construction of leisure and play facilities?
No provision has been made for any form of participation of children in the decision-making processes concerning the planning and construction of leisure and play facilities.
At the level of the school structures themselves, a representative of the students forms part of the school council (
Consiglio di istituto
), which enjoys decisional powers in the management of scholastic and recreation activities.
Please provide information on the implementation of articles 22, 36, 38 and 39 f the Convention.
Entry of foreign children into Italy has assumed the dimensions of a phenomenon of very substantial size in recent years and, what is more, is still on the increase. In 1994, for example, more than 30,000 unaccompanied children made their way into Italy. Over and above the traditional reasons for coming to Italy (study, brief vacation, health), recent years have seen a considerable increase in the inflow of children coming from conflict areas, regions struck by natural disasters or simply as immigrants, for the most part clandestine, or members of population groups of nomad origin.
Children may autonomously ask to be recognized as refugees, though always within the general procedures envisaged for their protection as outlined in the response to question no.30 hereinbelow.
Applications for the entry of children who wish to come to Italy for the purpose of study, occupational training, medical treatment or work are examined by the competent diplomatic representations and consular offices.
Reception of children coming from war areas or other risk conditions, as well examination of group entry requests relating to children, falls within the competence of the
Committee for the Protection of Foreign Minors, a body we already had occasion to mention.
Recognition of refugee status is accorded with the general framework of United Nations regulations and in collaboration with the Office of the UN High commissioner for Refugees in Italy. The Committee for the Protection of Foreign Minors have been set the task of identifying the form of hospitality and organization of daily life of refugee children that are in line with both their needs and respect of their rights.
Special protection measures have recently been agreed with the Order of Journalists to ensure respect of the forming personality of the minor in connection with information provided by the press and the mass media and to avoid the dissemination of items of personal news that could damage the image and the personality of the minor.
The principles contained in Art.39 of the Convention have also been applied by means of the implementation of the aforementioned Law No.216 of 29 July 1991 to avoid and forestall the involvement of children in activities of organized crime in social environments entailing the risk of juvenile delinquency. This law, in fact, intervened in favour of two categories of children, both rather delicate and worthy of the closest possible attention: the first and socially larger group benefits from measures of support and initiatives that seek to safeguard and protect individual growth and the maturation of the under-age subject, while interventions to prevent delinquency and promote resocialization have been implemented in favour of the smaller group of juveniles who already have penal records. Both types of measure have the same ultimate goal and set out to realize an incisive intervention to prevent situations that imply the risk of delinquency.
The Italian legal system does not permit children (i.e. people less than eighteen years of age) to engage in any kind of military activity or to do conscript service.
Has an evaluation been undertaken regarding the functioning of the system of guardianship for unaccompanied refugee minors? If so, please provide details of that experience and any lessons learned.
The Committee for the Protection of Foreign Minors also perform important functions in connection with authorizing the entry of unaccompanied children, providing assistance for them and, more generally, protecting their interests. Between April 1994 and April 1995 the Committee authorized the entry of as many as 29,516 children, of whom only 2,283 were accompanied. The dossier attached hereto contains important information and statistical data about these children in general and, more particularly, about the unaccompanied ones (
Unaccompanied foreign children, as also foreign children in a state of abandonment or at least devoid of adequate protection, are subject to the same regulations applied to Italian children. In particular, the juvenile courts have to decide the type of protection to be accorded (opening of protection procedures, opening of the procedure for declaring them to be available for adoption, or such specific protection measures as assignment to assistance institutions, foster parents, or assignment in expectation of adoption).
The arrangements made for foreign children who have been abandoned cover their maintenance, education and occupational training irrespective of whether they are assigned to foster parents or to a public or private assistance institution. All such children are granted a provisional residence permit and the possibility of participating in school and occupational training and, if they are over fourteen year of age, also in working activities.
Does the government plan to adjust or modify the application procedures vis-à-vis asylum-seeking childre, including with a view to guaranteeing the right of the child to express his/her views and to ensuring a reassuring atmosphere for the child in such situations?
Requests for asylum have to be addressed to the public safety authorities, who normally explain to unaccompanied children the difficulties they will have to face on account of their age and due to their insertion in a foreign country where the language, the culture and the everyday habits are completely different from what they are accustomed to (
In cases where the decision to ask for asylum does not seem to be based on sufficient maturity, the competent authorities will ventilate the possibility of a return to the country of origin with the collaboration of specialist services capable of establishing and facilitating contact with the members of the minor's family who remained behind.
If the choice in fiivour of asylum seems mediated and mature, the police authorities, before making a formal record of the asylum request, will report the case to the juvenile court for the appointment of a guardian and thus assuring the normal right to protection and discretion that should be enjoyed by asylum seekers.
Please provide brief details, including of any evaluation undertaken, as to the effectiveness of the monitoring and legal proceedings established of the "clandestine work" by minors and violations of their school obligation (see para. 198 of the report).
Various instruments are used to prevent and fight against "clandestine work" by minors (or
, black work, the name by which this phenomenon is generally known in Italy). Clearly, however, an effective struggle against the employment of juveniles as labour force calls successful parallel action to ensure school attendance and avoid truancy.
In general principle, one may here not that the use of minor in working activities is gradually declining in Italy as a result of the drop in the birth rate, the high degree of school attendance among the juvenile population, and the improved general economic conditions.
Recourse to the work of children is now concentrated in four distinct areas:
a. in the agricultural sector;
b. in businesses belonging to the children's own parent or other close relatives;
c. in "clandestine" activities; and
d. in general working activities by the instauration of a true worker-employer relationship.
At the present state of Italian legislation, it is not always possible to persecute cases of juvenile work. Over and above employment in agricultural activities and other family businesses that find themselves in conditions of particular difficulty, minors and adolescents (especially if female) are often entrusted with the task of looking after the home and caring for the smallest members of the family. Furthermore, minors and adolescents are often employed (and exploited) in mendicancy activities and/or offering various products for sale. These situations, too, tend to occur primarily among the particularly poor families.
The phenomenon of the use of children in working activities is subject to special controls and vigilance by the inspectors of the Ministry of Labour.
In connection with these inspections, however, it should here be mentioned:
- that no special forms of psycho-physical or economic exploitation of minors have been noted;
- that the applicable collective agreements in the various sectors are normally found to be respected;
- that no cases involving foreign minors have come to light.
The most frequently ascertained violations of the applicable protection rules concern working hours and rest periods, while employment of minors of less than fifteen years of age seems to have decreased very sharply, as is readily brought out by the attached tabulations summarizing the most commonly ascertained violations at the national level during the course of the last three years (1992 - 1993 - 1994) (
32. With reference to paras. 97 and 98 of the report, please provide information on the implementation in practice of Act No.216 of 1991, especially with regard to combating the use of minors in criminal activities.
Recent years have seen the coming to the fore of a certain tendency towards delinquential behaviour at an early age and an aggravation of the various forms of juvenile crime, especially in the urban areas (
). No certain data are available as regards associative phenomena of the mafia type that systematically configure the role and activities of children.
Indeed, just as there have been cases of gangs organized among minors, the police forces and the magistrates have also received reports and information about a kind of recruitment by organized crime of boys, sometimes not more than 12-13 years of age, for employment in such crimes as smuggling, dope peddling, thefts, and robberies.
It has been noted that the children of the poorer families, precisely on account of the difficulties of their everyday life, are more prone to become victims of criminal organizations who offer them protection, distorted "values", and money. These observations have found confirmation in the course of special inspections made in Naples, Bari, Catania and Palermo. But not all the areas in Southern Italy present an identical picture in this respect, where differences in political and social history and different degrees of solidarity and communicability among the residential populations are making themselves felt.
It has also been noted that there is a close relationship between truancy and juvenile delinquency: more than 70% of the juveniles currently detained have attained only the lowest educational levels and about 20% of them are very close to illiteracy.
The problem of foreigners in this general context is particularly delicate and complex. Quite apart from the umber of non-Italian minors denounced for criminal activities, juvenile crime statistics bring out a marked presence of foreign minors, especially North Africans and Gipsies. This presence has sharply increased, reaching 50% in such major cities as Rome, Milan, Florence, Turin and Brescia, which seem to be the ones most directly affected by this problem, at least from the point of view of social control.
The social condition of foreign minors who have problems with Italian criminal justice would also seem to be considerably worse than that of their Italian counterparts: a very high rate of illiteracy (especially among Gipsy children), less school attendance, critical or indefinite family situations, higher unemployment percentages.
Among Gipsy minors there is a tendency not only to specialize in grand larceny, but also to commit rather more serious crimes, including receiving, robbery and, for the first time ever as far as some regions are has always played a part and enjoyed space in the various local communities. A number of social transformations are now coming to the fore within the Gipsy populations and are accompanied by objective conditions of emargination.
The aspects that currently characterize the conditions of life in our country, as indeed in the whole of the Western world, have profoundly changed the context in which the nomad populations could carry out their traditional and intermittent activities: fortune telling and reading of the hand, sale of copper articles, circus-type entertainment, etc., and therefore also the interaction modalities between these populations and Italian society.
As against this, one must here note processes of gradual settlement of the Gipsy populations, though these processes are almost invariably accompanied by the aforementioned phenomena of social emargination and, quite frequently, also by phenomena of delinquency and criminality. These aspects have become further aggravated by the massive arrival of evacuees from the former Yugoslavia, a part of whom based themselves on the Gipsy transit camps of some of the major cities. The repercussions of this phenomenon can be summarized as follows:
- creation of large settlements in the transit camps of some Italian cities (especially Venice, Bologna, Florence, Naples, Turin, etc.) with negative effects on the living conditions within the camps;
- confusion on the analysis and solution proposals regarding these problems: confusion between evacuees and Gipsies; between Gipsies of Italian nationality (who are the majority) and those of other countries; between the problems created by the Yugoslav war emergency and the specific problems of the Italian nomad populations.
In this general context mention should here be made of some significant initiatives taken in the endeavour of finding a solution to the not by any means few problems associated with these population groups:
- The Department of Social Affairs of the Prime Minister's office promoted the setting up of a study commission for safeguarding the nomad populations, which was subsequently transformed into a "Coordination Table" (
Tavolo di coordinamento
) to examine the urgent problems afflicting the Italian Gipsies and to propose solutions therefore;
- the Ministry of the Interior, following also some detailed censuses, took charge of a considerable number of Yugoslav evacuees and, in collaboration with numerous local authorities, facilitated their redistribution over the territory; this was done, above all, in Venice, Bologna and Florence, while analogous solution for the other cities are still in the study phase;
- some local authorities have made available new areas where it will be possible to organize camps for these evacuees.
Quite generally, however, it has to be said that the situation of the areas used as transit camps for Gipsies is not wholly satisfactory. Quite apart from the immediate problems, there is growing awareness that what is really needed is a plan and long-term policies for accommodating Gipsies and, if possible, inserting them in local communities.
Particular mention should here be made of the instructions issued by the Ministry of Education, according to which the children of foreigners (and therefore also Gipsy children) may attend the ordinary schools of the public authorities even when they do not possess a regular residence permit. In the case of Gipsy children, moreover, arrangements have been made to enable schools to face the problems created by the fact that Gipsies move around the country and to make it possible for the new school to obtain details of the child's education via an appropriate information system.
a. On Question No.1:
Abstracts of some sentences that make specific reference to the Convention.
Initiative taken by the public attorney's office attached to the Naples juvenile court in relation to the rules of the Convention.
b. On Question No.12:
Extract from the Italian Report on the Convention on Civil and Political Rights (part concerning the treatment of minorities).
c. On Question No.23:
Abstracts of some sentences concerning the relations between minors and their parents in case of separation and/or divorce.
d. On Question No.29:
Committee for the Protection of Foreign Minors: statistical data.
e. On Question No.30:
Data about asylum-seeking foreign minors.
f. On Question No.11:
Data about breaches of the regulations concerning juvenile labour.
g. On Question No.32:
Statistical data concerning juveniles involved in criminal activities.
*/ Annexes are available for consultation at the secretariat.
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights