Italy

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Persistent violations
  • Discrimination against Roma and Sinti children[1]
  • High drop-out rates (particularly among children from families in socio-economic difficulty, and children from immigrant families)[2]
  • Discrimination in the juvenile justice system[3]
  • Treatment of children seeking asylum[4]
  • Conditions in, and provision of, asylum reception centres[5]
  • Sexual exploitation of children[6]
  • Citizenship and statelessness[7]
  • insufficient healthcare provision for undocumented immigrants[8]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrant Workers, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrant Workers, Universal Periodic Review
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrant Workers
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, Universal Periodic Review
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on Racism
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrant Workers



Introduction

A southern European country, bordering France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia, Italy also surrounds two micro States (Vatican City and San Marino). Since the abolition of the monarchy in 1946, Italy has operated as a parliamentary democracy, with both a presidential head of state and a prime minister leading the government. Currently, the major human rights concerns in Italy centre around discrimination against people from Romani background and the treatment of migrants.

Geography

Italy is located in south-central Europe, bordering France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia to the north, and consisting of the entire Italian Peninsula, Sardinia, Sicily and several smaller islands. San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within Italy, while Campione d'Italia is an exclave in Switzerland. The capital city is Rome.

Population and language

With a population of 60 million, Italy is the fourth most populous country in the European Union, and the 23rd most populous world wide. The national population has been rising gradually over the past three decades, increasing by around five per cent between 2000 and 2010, but projections for the coming decade indicate that population growth is likely to slow to a tenth of that rate[1].

The first language of the majority of Italians is Italian, though in the South Tyrol and the Valle d'Aosta, German and French respectively are predominant.

History and Politics

In the two decades between early 1960 and early 1980, Italy suffered a period of social and political turbulence, characterised by social conflict and terrorist violence[2]. The 1978 assassination of a Christian Democrat leader marked a shift in national politics, with governments emerging for the first time with non-Christian Democrat premiers. The early 1990s, however, saw a further seismic shift, with revelations of widespread political corruption emerging through the mani pulite (clean hands) judicial investigation. In the wake of the scandal, many political parties disappeared, and many leading political figures were convicted of crimes relating to corruption. Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian Prime Minister, emerged during this period, being elected for the first time in 1994.

Italy has a bicameral legislature, made up of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. Both houses have equal authority and are elected by a form of proportional representation. The government consists of the President of the Council of Ministers alongside departmental Ministers. Though the President officially appoints ministers, they are nominated by the Prime Minister.

The Italian electoral system is such that it regularly produces coalition governments, which have tended to be unstable. Silvio Berlusconi holds the record for the longest serving post-war Italian Government, though his is the only one to survive a full five- year term over this period[3]. Berlusconi has been a controversial political character, however, and is currently awaiting three trials over allegations of corruption, tax fraud and claims of sexual intercourse with a minor[4]. Mario Monti, a former professor of economics, replaced Silvio Berlusconi as Prime Minister in November 2011[5].

Economy

Since the industrial revolution, Italy has been marked by a division between the industrial north and the the less economically developed south. The North is dominated by industry and private companies, producing motor vehicles, precision machinery, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, fashion and clothing, while the south remains predominantly agricultural. Italy is largely reliant on imports for its energy needs; more than 80 per cent of its energy comes from external sources, but it does have natural gas deposits and some oil reserves.

The 2008 economic crisis had a considerable negative impact on the Italian economy, with 2009 seeing a 5.2 per cent contraction in GDP. The economy began to grow again in 2010, though only at a rate of of 1.3 per cent. Meanwhile, Italy's labour market has continued to suffer, with unemployment rising to 8.4 per cent. Italy currently has very high levels of public debt, with the World Bank estimating that it had reached 119 per cent of GDP in 2010[6].

Italy was a founding member of the European Economic Community, the precursor to the European Union, and remains a key State in the Union.

Civil society and media

Italy has a relatively well-organised range of civil society organisations (CSOs), often forming networks and developing effective systems of internal governance. While the external environment is generally favourable for CSOs, CIVICUS has noted a high level of perceived corruption and a low level of press freedom as harmful to the State's efforts to provide a strong and positive legal environment for such organisations.

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has drawn attention to Silvio Berlusconi's control of the media, including his ownership of the three public RAI television channels and the radio and television group Mediaset. In particular, RWB has noted the “increasing political interference in their editorial lines and fostering [of] self-censorship”. The Mafia are also a limit on the free press, particularly in the South, forcing some journalists reporting on their activities into police protection[7].

Human rights and children's rights

Discrimination against Roma and Sinti children are among the criticisms raised most frequently by human rights organisations in relation to Italy. The Committee on the Rights of the Child has raised concerns about the comparatively low level of access of children from these communities to health and social services as well as to education[8]. Similarly the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism has noted discrimination against Roma and Sinti children in areas of housing, employment and racist violence.

  1. UN DESA (2009d). (World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision". New York Department for Economic and Social Affairs
  2. Richard Drake, "Italy in the 1960s, a Legacy of Terrorism and Liberation", South Central Review Vol. 16/17, 1999-2000
  3. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Country Profiles: Italy
  4. BBC, "Italy PM Silvio Berlusconi cleared in fraud case"
  5. BBC, " Profile: Mario Monti" 13 November 2011
  6. World Bank Data: Italy
  7. Reporters Without Borders, World Report: Italy
  8. Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations, October 2011

Sources:


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