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Human Rights Committee considers the report of Italy

Human Rights Committee

13 March 2017

The Human Rights Committee today concluded its consideration of the sixth periodic report of Italy on its implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Presenting the report, Bendetto Della Vedova, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry Foreign Affairs of Italy, stated that Italy was firmly convinced of the highest importance of the treaty body mechanism for the promotion and protection of human rights in all States parties to the Covenant.  Since the presentation of the fifth periodic report of Italy in 2005, many things had changed, both globally and domestically. New challenges had emerged and had irreversibly impacted the daily reality. Those included terrorism, organized crime, and massive flows of migrants.  The maintenance of peace and security, sustainable economic and social development, and the promotion and protection of human rights had to go hand in hand. The Italian Constitution protected all rights and fundamental freedoms envisaged by international standards. Within that framework, Article 3 of the Italian Constitution, devoted to the principle of formal and substantive equality, guided the powers and functions of the State. Throughout the years, in its dialogue with the United Nations, Italy had always stood firm on these matters.

In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts raised concerns about the absence of a National Human Rights Institution; the non-recognition of stateless persons; discrimination against, and the legal status of the Roma, Sinti, and Camminanti peoples; forced evictions of Roma communities; abortion and the rise of conscientious objectors among physicians, which had allegedly resulted to a rise in the number of clandestine abortions; gender discrimination, and domestic violence. The recognition of the crime of torture which was still pending was also of concern to the Committee. Committee Experts recognized the high burden upon Italy with regard to the migration crisis, and the significant number of steps undertaken by the State party in that regard. Challenges, however, still remained, and Experts were in particular concerned about unaccompanied minor migrants; the processing of migrants in the hotspots; non-consensual repatriations and the provision of liberty; disregard to the principle of non-refoulement; and the process of distinguishing between asylum seekers and economic migrants. 

In concluding remarks, Cosimo Maria Ferri, Deputy Minister of Justice, thanked the Committee for the constructive dialogue, stating that the State party had tried its best to assure the Committee that it believed in the dialogue.

Margot Waterval, Committee Member, in closing remarks, thanked the delegation for their complete answers.

The delegation of Italy consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of State for Justice Affairs, the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Human Rights, the General and Social Affairs Service-Department for Equal Opportunities, the National Office against Racial Discrimination, the Ministry of Health, the National Authority for the Protection of Detainees and Prisoners’ Rights, the National Anti-Trust Authority, the National Authority on Communications, and the Permanents Mission of Italy to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public at 10 a.m. on Monday, 13 March, to discuss its Methods of Work.
 
Report

The sixth periodic report of Italy can be read here: CCPR/C/ITA/6.
 
Presentation of the Report

BENEDETTO DELLA VEDOVA, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that Italy was firmly convinced of the highest importance of the Treaty Body mechanism for the promotion and protection of human rights in all States parties to the Covenant. Since the presentation of the fifth periodic report of Italy in 2005, many things had changed, both globally and domestically.  New challenges had emerged and had irreversibly impacted the daily reality. Those included terrorism, organized crime, and massive flows of migrants.  The maintenance of peace and security, sustainable economic and social development, and the promotion and protection of human rights had to go hand in hand. The Italian Constitution protected all rights and fundamental freedoms envisaged by international standards. Within that framework, Article 3 of the Italian Constitution, devoted to the principle of formal and substantive equality, guided the powers and functions of the State.  Throughout the years, in its dialogue with the United Nations, Italy had always stood firm on those matters.

The numerous initiatives that Italy had launched for the protection and promotion of human rights since the last reporting period included the acceptance of 176 out of 186 recommendations from the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2014; withdrawing the two remaining reservations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; adopting the first National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights in accordance with relevant 2011 United Nation Guidelines; adopting the third National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security; adopting the Decrees implementing the 2016 legislation on civil unions for same sex couples; establishing the Solidarity Fund for Victims of Discrimination; launching the Extraordinary National Action Plan against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and establishing 486 anti-violence centres and women’s shelters; launching the first National Action Plan against Trafficking and Serious Exploitation of Human Beings; and signing, together with relevant Islamic associations, a National Agreement for an Italian Islam. In addition, in line with the National Strategy for the Inclusion of Roma, Sinti and Camminanti in Italy, 2012-2020, the National Office against Racial Discrimination had convened a Working Group of State Agencies, the Association of Municipalities, the Statistical Institute, and representatives from the cities of Milan, Rome and Naples, to solve the issue of the settlements.
 
Questions by Experts

An Expert expressed regret as to the delay of the submission of the report, due six years before it had been submitted.  He commended the State party’s removal of reservations, which was a very strong statement, and which set an example for the world.

Regarding the National Human Rights Institution, accepting that it was an issue of live debate, the Expert expressed disappointment regarding the pledges in that regard, which had started back in 2007.  Something needed to change in that respect, and the Committee expected the State party to move fast. 

Launching a series of questions on migration, the Expert appreciated the work of Italian officers saving lives at sea. The Committee recognized that the burden upon Italy was high and appreciated all of the State party’s efforts in that regard.  However, some things still could be improved, including non-consensual repatriations and the provision of liberty. The Hirsi Jamaya case and the Sharifi case had gone before the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that Italy had failed to uphold international human rights standards.  Had any changes been introduced in law and practice following those European Court of Human Rights judgements?  Was the practice of Adriatic removals to Greece continuing, with disregard to the principle of non-refoulement?

Could more information be provided regarding the group of 48 Sudanese migrants expulsed at the border in 2015? What was the status of the Memorandum signed with Sudan on that issue? Were the readmission agreements with Sudan submitted to the Parliament for approval and what procedures were in place to ensure that those were in compliance with domestic law and with the Covenant?

How was the process of distinguishing between asylum seekers and economic migrants being carried out, asked the Expert.  Commending the shortening of the period of detention, the Expert asked the delegation to ensure the Committee that the State practiced detention only for a brief initial period and in order to determine the identity of migrants if in doubt.  Could the delegation address the alleged use of electric sticks or batons, the denial of food or water, until migrants provided their fingerprints? Could the delegation provide information on access to the asylum procedure in the hotspots (detention centres)?

Another Expert, addressing various aspects of the legal framework for discrimination, noted that Article 3 did not include explicit references to different grounds of discrimination, such as disability, age, gender orientation or identity, national or social origin, and other factors.  How was the reference to personal or social conditions interpreted and did it include those grounds? Outside of the laws regarding employment, were there laws that addressed discrimination? Were there plans to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation?

What measures were in place to provide in-vitro fertilization to same-sex couples?

Regarding gender discrimination, the replies stated that 411 cases had been identified in 2015. Were those filed in courts and, if so, how many of them were on gender-based discrimination?  The delegation was asked to provide information on women in the judiciary and the provincial councils. How would the State party continue to include women including at the regional and local levels. How did the State party plan to reach its 33 percent target for representation of women?

The Expert welcomed the State party’s ratification on the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. Allegedly, there were 15,000 stateless persons, and, of those, only 701 were formally recognized as stateless.  Reports had been received by the Committee that there was a difficulty in obtaining status of statelessness. Likewise, whereas the law guaranteed citizenship, that, in practice was not the case.  Undocumented stateless persons were allegedly at risk of expulsion. Were temporary residence permits issued?

Regarding the legal status of the Roma, Sinti, and Camminanti peoples, a working group had been established in 2013 but had not met in 2016. Were there plans to reconvene the Working Group? Were there plans to reconsider the legal situation of those groups, such as granting them refugee status or residence permits? Another Expert asked the delegation to provide more information on the Roma, Sinti, and Camminanti and anti-discrimination measures undertaken by the State party in that regard. What steps were taken to recognize those as national minorities? What was the status of the two draft laws pending before the Parliament on the protection of Roma and Sinti?

Another Expert asked a series of questions regarding evictions of the Roma. Was it true that evictions had risen, and were being undertaken without formal notice and a timely warning? A ruling had found one of the evictions as segregation and discrimination based on ethnic grounds. Was it correct that a certain Roma community had been relocated, following evictions, next to a land stock toxic waste site?  What mechanisms were in place to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the National Roma Strategy and what concrete funding had been allocated to ensure its effect?

An Expert, commending the high representation of women in the delegation, asked what was being done to prevent domestic violence against women within the Roma community. What measures had been taken to establish help shelters?

Regarding abortion, what measures were in place to ensure the rights of women as well as physicians who were conducting operations?  Allegedly, up to 20,000 women used clandestine procedures to interrupt their pregnancies every year, at high risk to their health and their lives. That situation had been created by a very rapid rise of objectors among medical staff.  In some areas it had reached 90 percent and had become such a strong phenomenon that it was now a structural phenomenon. Women had to be hospitalized, sign document saying that it was their own responsibility, and so forth.

Another Expert, referring to the use of force by authorities, stated that recognition of the crime of torture seemed to be stuck – could the delegation tell the Committee at which stage the State party was in that regard?
 
Replies by the Delegation

There was no legal discrimination between women and men according to the law.  The constitutional principle of equality was upheld, the delegation stated.

Roma, Sinti and Camminanti women victims of violence were provided for, free of charge, in shelters, where they had access to legal aid, health care, and psychological support. In 2015, an extraordinary National Action Plan had been approved, allocating 18 million EUR for strengthening the shelters. A number of awareness-raising campaigns had been launched to sensitize the public, in particular in Italian schools, thus fighting the phenomenon of violence from  younger generations.

The representation of women in the Parliament had moved from 10 percent in 2002 to over 31 percent in 2015. In diplomacy, as of December 2014, women had been 217 out of 932 diplomats.  In addition, 114 women were directors of public institutions, such as penitentiaries.

With regard to questions on abortion, waiting risks had been made shorter, and most women only had to wait one week. Only 13 percent of women waited more than two weeks. Conscientious objectors were not of concern, because while the number of abortions was at a steady drop, the number of non-objectors had remained almost stable in the past 30 years.  Their workload was 1.6 abortions a week, their distribution was even on the territory of Italy, and the abortions did not depend on the number of objectors.

A National Roma Platform had been established, establishing a dialogue among Roma associations and communities, in an attempt to sort all problems related to exclusion. In 2015, the first meeting had been convened, establishing a Working Group that would be in charge of the issues. Monitoring was ensured. The La Barbutta Camp had been closed down based on a ruling from the Court of Rome.

The offence of torture had been introduced in discussions, and the discussion had been suspended at the Senate level.  The delegation assured the Committee that Italy paid a lot of attention to that issue.  The tragic incidents during the G7 Summit in Genoa, which had resulted in the excessive use of force by law-enforcement officers, had sensitized the country to those issues.  Trainings in that regard were ongoing.

Regarding the questions on access to the asylum procedure in the hotspots (detention centres), the delegation said that those were not the only place where landings occurred. The “hotspot approach” had been regulated by specific standard operation procedures which had been shared by all stakeholders, national and international. Those procedures were implemented in every landing/arrival area.  After first aid, sanitary screening and assessment of vulnerability, a very detailed information prepared by the United Nations Refugee Agency was given to the persons. That included how to apply to asylum, the period of time it took, and assisted voluntary return as well as relocation procedures. The Department for Civil Liberties and Coordination had set up a monitoring table in Rome, and a system in which all representatives were involved. Hotspot staff included cultural mediators, psychologists, legal advisors and guardians for minors, all of whom were specifically trained to carry out all the operations required.

The hotspot approach was a very useful tool for the identification of migrants, and those who were potentially at risk. Fingerprints were taken while taking care of the corporal integrity of persons and with utmost care, not by force, and under surveillance. There could be no talk of massive expulsion.

Regarding the questions on statelessness, the delegation informed that 50 persons from 2012 to 2015 had received the status of stateless persons.
 
Follow-up Questions by Experts

What numbers of clandestine abortions were there, an Expert inquired. What number of complications were there as a result of those?  Could the delegation explain the referral mechanism?  More specifically, in the case of conscientious objection, could a referral be made?

Another Expert asked about the processing of migrants in the hotspots. Was there compatibility with the Covenant? With regard to the allegations of violence during the fingerprinting, he was thankful for the information that there was video-surveillance. However, no information had been provided on the investigations regarding those allegations. What monitoring ascertained the conditions in those centres?  With regard to the distinction between economic migrants and asylum seekers, did they have any assistance at that time?  Did they have the ability to access lawyers or non-governmental activists to help them file the appeal?

Regarding clandestine abortions, an Expert wondered whether the decrease in abortion could be due to the increase in clandestine abortions. Illegal abortions were still penalized with fines that could reach 10,000 EUR.  Apparently, the Government had stopped recording figures of conscientious objections since 2013. Why was that the case?

Was the concept of domestic violence an autonomous crime?  In other words, did it require a complaint by the victim or could it be launched ex-officio by police or prosecutors?  What was the range between the least and most serious penalties in that regard?  Was it being considered a priority either by prosecuting authorities or by law enforcement agencies and, if so, since when?  How many training sessions and how many people had been covered in the judiciary and the public sector in general?  Were public prosecutors and judges cooperating well with other public entities on that issue?

Question was asked about prospects of recognizing the crime of torture and the impediments to doing so. 

Was the 33 percent quota the benchmark for increased representation and inclusion of women and what were the steps intended?

Was the reference by the delegation to a draft bill a reference to the Civil Union Act, or was it a reference to another draft bill with regard to same sex families?

Regarding persons with disabilities, were there plans to extend the lack of reasonable accommodation requirement beyond the employment requirements? 
 
Replies by the Delegation

Clandestine abortions numbers were only estimates, confirmed the delegation.  The number was between 12,000 and 15,000 abortions for Italian women, and was based on a data model based on fertility. That data had been constant since 2005, and had steadily dropped since 1983.  Legal abortions had also decreased. Women under 18 had a very low rate of abortions as well as a very low rate of pregnancies. In general, the number of abortions in Italy was very low.  Births had been on the decrease as well – thus a parallel decrease in the number of births and the number of abortions. Regarding conscientious objectors, those had slightly increased, but the numbers had been steady since 2006.  What had decreased was the workload for non-objectors.  All indicators thus pointed to the fact that women were using abortion as a very last resort.  There was no evidence, no litigations or cases brought to court for access to those services.

The delegation informed that there were memoranda of understanding with Tunisia, Sudan and other countries, which respected all international human rights principles. Migrants had legal aid provided by the International Organization for Migration. When a decision was taken for repatriation inside the hotspot by the administrative authorities, and if there was no possibility to do it immediately, migrants were transferred to the Centre for Identification and Expulsion. They had access to international protection and legal protection, in that Centre as well. There was also the possibility for an appeal against the decision to repatriate, as well as a judicial proceeding. In that case, the procedure was frozen.

Regarding questions on the monitoring of forced returns, a member of the delegation replied that there were three types of forced returns.  One was the charter flights, which was an individual, not a collective decision.  1,094 persons had been returned using such charter flights. Another type of return was organized by Frontex, whereby 151 individuals had been returned to Nigeria.  In both cases, a monitoring officer from the Office of the Guarantor of the Rights of Detainees and Persons Deprived of their Liberty could decide whether or not to monitor the flights.  Thus far, the monitoring officers had monitored three Frontex flights and two charter flights.  The third type of forced return was the normal type of return, by which 955 citizens of different countries had been returned on normal commercial flights.  The monitoring system, thus, was implemented in the hotspots, and the flights. The Officer of the Guarantor of the Rights of Detainees and Persons Deprived of their Liberty would soon issue a report on its findings.

Hotspots were considered by the monitors as places of deprivation of liberty. Visits by the monitors were made unannounced.

As many as 51 percent of employees in the judiciary were women, informed the delegation.

The delegation said that Italy had worked hard to ensure that the justice system functioned according to all international standards.  Two or three years earlier, a civil trial used to last for several years.  Today, the timelines had been considerably reduced; the delegation would provide further details on that point in writing. 

Italy renewed its commitment to establish a National Human Rights Institution, as was evident from the current debates in the country on that matter.  For the time being, the country had a position of a National Guarantor, whose competences covered entering the places of detention, including the hotspots. He was appointed by the President, upon a proposal from the Parliament, with a permanent mandate which guaranteed his independence.

Regarding the reception of migrants, the delegation reiterated Italy’s determination to fulfill its obligations. Several reforms had been undertaken to that end, notably with the recent signing of memoranda of understanding for criminal assistance between the countries of the European Union; the strengthening of the justice system and the simplification of judicial proceedings, as well as applications for asylum and repatriation. In the Khalifa case, the European Court of Human Rights had delivered a ruling that Italy had respected the principle of non-refoulement.  Moreover, one of the priorities of the State was to introduce into the legislation the crime of torture as quickly as possible.

The delegation also addressed prison conditions, indicating that the country had ameliorated those, including by increasing the space per prisoner to nine square meters, which was bigger than the European average. Italy separated dangerous prisoners from others.  To date, there were 393 people whose life in prison was followed by specialized investigators.

In reference to a series of questions related to migration, the delegation stated that the State used a double track approach, which included reception and incorporation into society.  The simplified procedure of repatriation to Tunisia was in line with the principle of non-refoulement. There was no difference in the treatment of foreign nationals and citizens in the courts.
 
Questions by Experts

An Expert, launching a series of questions on the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, asked the State party to respond to the allegations from the Amnesty International report of 2016, on the impediment of the right of the Guarantor to make unannounced visits to detention centers.

Were migrants getting legal representation at the hotspots?

Regarding detention centre conditions for migrants and asylum seekers, could the delegation respond to the allegations on the lack of access to mental health support in the reception centres? What was the length of detention in them? Was the State party familiar with the lack of food and water in the hotspots and the reception centres?  Allegedly, hundreds of migrants had been sleeping in the streets and the sanitary conditions in detention centres were dire.

There was allegedly a significant delay in the processing of unaccompanied minors in the first reception centres, and they remained in the hotspots and temporary facilities for weeks. There were also allegations of monthly delays in the appointment of guardians. There was a general concern about the disappearance of children from reception facilities.

Regarding asylum procedures, would the crime of irregular entry and stay be abolished by the State party?  Was it true that rejection rates had increased from 20 percent to 60 percent, and, if so, how did the State party explain that trend? Could the State party address the length of the asylum procedures?  The issue of data protection was also an issue, especially with regard to the proportionality of intrusions into private life.  How did data protection respect the right to personal privacy under the Covenant?  How was the data regime, which allowed the State to keep data up to 24 months, compatible with the provisions of the Covenant?

Another Expert asked a series of questions on human trafficking. More specifically, the identification of traffickers as victims and not as criminals was an issue. What was the number of trafficked persons, their country of origin and their country of entrance, and what was being done to sanction intermediaries?

Another Expert lamented that there were up to 400,000 migrant workers, mostly in the agricultural industry, who lived in difficult, inhumane conditions, and were exposed to various violations of human rights.   Compliance with rules of occupational safety and insufficient labor inspections were of concern. Commending the new Law to that effect, the Expert pointed out that concerns still remained.  Inspectors did not conduct labour inspection properly, namely because of asking migrant workers to issue identification papers. What were the complaint mechanisms available for irregular complainants without fear of reprisals?  How many complaints had been lodged and how many of them had gone through the official legal channels? How many complaints had resulted in convictions? Could the implementation of the law be provided, including compensation measures for victims of exploitation?  None of the points of the protocol for living conditions had been undertaken.

In a series of questions regarding the criminalization and defamation of insult, the Expert stated that the Committee noted with satisfaction that the offence of insult had been decriminalized, however the crime of defamation was still in place.  As a result, in the previous year, 475 journalists had been convicted of libel, of which many had been sentenced to prison with an average of sentence of eight months.  Blasphemy, as well as publicly offending the President, were also crimes.  How many prosecutions had been brought under those laws? What was the status of revising the laws that criminalized forms of speech and that improperly criminalized freedom of expression?

Commending the Transparency Information Act, the Expert stated that individuals were limited from holding public officials responsible for retaining and withholding information. What measures were in place to counter that?

Another Expert, noting the improvements in prison conditions, stated that some concerns still remained. Prisons were still overcrowded, and judges were reluctant to provide remedies. What was the success rate of remedies and the length of proceedings regarding that category? Allegedly, foreigners were held for lengthier periods of time than citizens. Could the delegation address those issues?

Was it true that, according to the law, mental institutions were still recognized as penal institutions and not hospitals? Allegedly, psychiatric sanctions had been established in prisons, and were used against prisoners who were perceived as difficult, without any diagnosis as to the mental capacity of the persons. Could the State party address that?

Regarding the backlog and lengthiness in the judicial system, the Expert commended attempts by the State party to resolve it through mediation, arbitration and negotiation, however the overall length of proceedings seemed to remained. The remedies put forward had not resolved the structural problem.  Could the State party address how it planned to reduce the backlog and reduce the judicial procedures?  Was it true that legal aid was provided only to persons with a very limited income? If so, could the State party addressed the low threshold of that requirement?

Another Expert reiterated his questions on measures ensuring independent and unobstructed functioning of the media.

An Expert asked whether public awareness measures had been taken under the new National Action Plan against Trafficking.  What measures had been undertaken to ensure its implementation, would implementations be assessed, and if so, by which entity? Of the funding earmarked for the implementation of the Plan, how much had been allocated to sex trafficking and how much to labour trafficking?  Were there currently allegations of trafficking in persons against public officials? What progress had been made with regard to the National Referral Mechanism; when would it be established and had funding been allocated? How would civil society be consulted in that regard?

Another Expert reiterated the issue on the recognition of torture as a crime. Could the delegation tell the Committee what the obstacles had been in that regard, where the difficulty was coming from, and what was planned to ensure the proper definition of the crime as per the Covenant?

Another Expert wished to have more information on the functioning of the National Office against Racial Discrimination.  Was the Support Fund of Victims of Discrimination State-funded?  How did the Office deal with the complaints it received, including the support given by the State party to the victims? Did the State party follow through the litigation and did it have information on the outcome of the litigation? 

Was the State party providing systematic monitoring of the implementation of the National Strategy for the Inclusion of Roma, Sinti and Camminanti in Italy, 2012-2020 at the local level?  Regarding Roma settlements, the Expert lamented that relocation plans retained a policy of separation and segregation of Roma from the rest of society.

Another Expert raised a question regarding domestic violence towards children and persons with disabilities. Did the delegation have disaggregated data in that regard? At what length were public authorities involved in combatting domestic violence?
 
Replies by the Delegation

In response to a series of questions on migrants and refugees, a delegate stated that the new law had established a new structure of the reception system.  By 2016, over 180,000 migrants had landed in Italy. At times, up to 6,000 people landed continuously at ten different ports.  A new widespread reception model had been launched in October 2016, according to sustainability and based on quotas. The plan ensured a balance of reception places at the regional and municipal levels. There were 8,000 municipalities in Italy, but at present only a small part were ready to receive and host migrants.

While the flow of unaccompanied minors had been around 12,000 annually, that number had recently significantly increased, to over 25,000. In order to address that increase, a special unit for the reception of minors had been established in order to coordinate the reception of a comprehensive system dedicated to them. Financial resources had been allocated with 20 million euros for 2016 and with the same sum for 2017.  The new Law enabled prefects to put into operation temporary reception centers in case of massive flows of unaccompanied minors, if local municipalities were unable to assure their reception. A decree set up the procedures related to minor reception, as well as the quality standards and main criteria, including food services, activities to be carried out in spare time, health services, and so forth.

Regarding appointment of guardians to unaccompanied minors, fingerprinting did not mean finding the personal data, including name and surname, of minors.  In order to detect information, authorities got in touch with presumed countries of origin based on interviews.  Fingerprinting was important and required at the European Union level, and thus a balance had to be struck between that aspect and human rights.  That was an ordinary procedure, while when there was a minor or child that sought international protection, the procedure was stopped and the asylum procedure was followed by regular authorities.  Memoranda of understanding were under way in order to alleviate the guardianship issue. On age identification of minors,  less evasive procedures were put in place. They started with a social interview by social workers, as well as a view from a psychologist and child psychiatrist.

The problem of children leaving the detention centres had been aggravated by the sheer dimension of the problem and the increase in numbers.  The Government was investigating whether there was an increase in the number of trafficked children. Italy was not a country with an internal trafficking problem, but rather an external trafficking phenomenon. The legislation regarding the offence of trafficking in persons, slavery, and related crimes, were fully in compliance with the Palermo Principals. The challenge was aggravated due to the fact that source and transit countries were not reliable.

A national plan to counter gender-based trafficking and trafficking in persons had been established and was being implemented by multiple stakeholders, and at different levels, including public awareness raising.

Regarding the use of Trojans and malware that could be inserted in telephones, the delegation said that  there was a provision in the legal procedure that did not provide for such actions. The law provided for restrictions for interception in the private dwellings of citizens.

On the issue of migrant workers, laws clearly established sanctions for employers who performed exploitation or in any way violated the laws pertaining to migrants. Migrants were entitled to a residence permit, which could be extended to six months. In addition, a new law tackling gangs had been updated recently to include trafficking for labour exploitation as a criminal offence.

A report would be delivered soon to address the allegations from Amnesty International,  assured the delegation.  There was indeed prison overcrowding, however the rate of overcrowding had been consistently decreasing, pointing to the fact that the measures in place were working and had to be further strengthened. A decree had introduced home detention to that effect, as well as a wider access to alternative measures.  There were currently more than 10,000 less prisoners than the previous year.  Italy had a history of mafia forming within the prison system, and was therefore very vigilant regarding prisons in general.

Information on media was disclosed to public, through a register of communications, and more detailed information was available for a certain price. There were 133 media channels in operation as of 2016.  Information on the deportation of media persons would be provided in written form.

The independence of the National Office against Racial Discrimination was provided for by the law. The launch of the Platform for Roma, Sinti, and Camminanti Communities had just started and was a decision of the Director General

The prosecution of domestic violence crimes was possible ex-officio, and a complaint was enough in order to start a prosecution.

Concluding Remarks

COSIMO MARIA FERRI, Deputy Minister of Justice, thanking the Committee for the constructive dialogue, assured the Committee that his country believed in the interaction with the oldest and most important Committee, and that his Government had purposefully sent a sizeable delegation, including two Deputy Ministers. He promised to answer the remaining questions in writing shortly, and invited the Committee to be present at events in Italy that were related to issues the Committee had touched upon.

MARGOT WATERVAL, Committee Member, in concluding remarks, thanked the delegation for their complete answers and wished them a safe journey home.

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For use of the information media; not an official record

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