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Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee, Italy, U.N. Doc. A/49/40, paras. 271-290 (1994).




The Committee considered the third periodic report of Italy (CCPR/C/64/Add.8) at its 1330th to 1332nd meetings, held on 11 and 12 July 1994 (see CCPR/C/SR.1330 to 1332), and adopted at the 1353rd meeting (fifty-first session), held on 27 July 1994 the following comments:

1. Introduction

The Committee expresses its appreciation to the State party for its elaborate and thorough report, which has been prepared in accordance with the Committee's guidelines, and for engaging, through a highly qualified delegation, in a very constructive dialogue with the Committee. It notes with satisfaction that the information provided in the report, and submitted orally by the delegation in reply to questions posed by members enabled the Committee to obtain a comprehensive view of Italy's actual compliance with the obligations undertaken under the Covenant.

2. Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Covenant

The Committee notes the emergence in certain parts of the population of Italy of a trend towards racism and intolerance against foreigners, particularly asylum-seekers and migrant workers, and the resurgence of certain elements militating in favour of political movements reminiscent of a past when human rights were seriously violated. The Committee also notes that there are difficulties in implementing the necessary struggle against organized crime and corruption, especially in the highest spheres of power, in a manner that is compatible with the provisions of the Covenant.

3. Positive aspects

The Committee notes with particular satisfaction the high level of achievement in the respect of human rights in Italy and the strong commitment of the State party to the promotion and protection of human rights at both the national and the international levels. In this regard, it welcomes, in particular, the intention of the State party to accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.

The Committee welcomes the efforts taken by the State party to promote equal opportunities for women, particularly through the work of the Commission for Parity and Equality of Opportunities for Men and Women, and the progress achieved in improving women's participation in public affairs, professions and the private economic sector. It also welcomes the adoption, on 26 April 1993, of a law aiming at strengthening the prevention, elimination and punishment of racist acts. The Committee takes note of agreements recently concluded between the State party and certain religious denominations, as well as the proposed establishment of a special office on religious freedom. The improvements in the free legal aid scheme and the establishment of an advisory national bioethics committee are also welcomed. Moreover, the Committee appreciates the various measures taken by the State party to protect and promote the rights of persons belonging to linguistic minorities, which constitutes a positive approach to the full implementation of article 27 of the Covenant.

4. Principal subjects of concern

The Committee continues to regret the extent of State party's reservations to the Covenant and that it has yet not envisaged withdrawing some of them.

The Committee regrets that the office of the citizens' advocate has not yet been established at the national level and that similar offices do not exist in all regions of the State party. Furthermore, there do not appear to be any guidelines regarding cooperation and coordination between those different offices. These facts combined with distinctions in the powers and functions of the regional and local citizens' advocates, may cause unequal protection for individuals depending on the place where they live.

The Committee is concerned about cases brought to its attention of ill-treatment of persons by police and security forces in public places and police stations. The Committee is also concerned by the increasing number of cases of ill-treatment in prisons. It notes with concern that the Government does not always investigate thoroughly those cases, that torture as such is not punishable in domestic law and that, consequently, appropriate sanctions are not always imposed on those found guilty.

The Committee is concerned about the duration of preventive detention as provided for under the law which does not appear to be compatible with the requirements of articles 9 and 14 of the Covenant. Delays in judicial proceedings remain worrisome despite attempts at reducing them. The Committee is also concerned at the various problems faced in the administration of prisons and other detention centres, particularly overcrowding.

The Committee is concerned about the excessive concentration of control of the mass media in a small group of people. Furthermore, it notes that such concentration may affect the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression and information under article 19 of the Covenant.

The Committee is concerned that the State party's definition of minorities is confined to linguistic minorities within its territory and that, consequently, members of other minorities may not enjoy equal protection of their rights under article 27.

5. Suggestions and recommendations

The Committee recommends that the State party review its reservations to the Covenant with a view to withdrawing them.

In view of the fact that criminal legislation does not provide for the death penalty, the Committee wishes to encourage the State party to take the necessary steps to accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant.

The Committee expresses the hope that the Government will undertake the necessary measures to establish a citizens' advocate office at the national level. It also recommends that, at the regional level, where this has not yet been done, citizens' advocate offices be established and that functions and powers of regional citizens' advocates be harmonized.

The Committee urges the State party to consider making torture a specific criminal offence. In addition, it suggests that the State party further strengthen measures to protect the rights of detainees by promptly investigating allegations of ill-treatment and ensuring that appropriate penalties are applied whenever such offences are committed; preventing the commission of such acts through efforts to ensure the stricter observance of regulations relating to the treatment of detainees and offenders; and reducing the length of preventive detention, taking into account the principle of presumption of innocence and the complexity of the investigation. The Committee also suggests that more effective and thorough human rights training be provided to law enforcement officials and prison officers.

The Committee recommends that the State party re-examine the possibility of civil liability of judges in the light of the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary.

In order to avoid the inherent risks in the excessive concentration of control of the mass information media in a small group of people, the Committee emphasizes the importance of implementing measures to ensure impartial allocation of resources, as well as equitable access to such media, and of adopting anti-trust legislation regulating mass media.

The Committee recommends that the State party continue to strengthen its education and training programmes on multi-culturalism with a view to eliminating racial discrimination and advancing tolerance and understanding among peoples and races.

Further efforts are required to ensure the equal participation by women in public life and more effective protection of women against all forms of violence.

The Committee would appreciate receiving in the next periodic report information on those matters which, owing to time constraints, remained unanswered, including the legal measures taken by the State party to allow the implementation of the views of the Committee under the Optional Protocol.


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