23 January 2019
The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined fifth and sixth periodic report of Italy on measures taken to implement the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Ernesto Massimo Ballelli, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations Office at Geneva, stressed the utmost importance that Italy attached to this constructive dialogue with the Committee and introduced the Italian delegation.
Manlio De Stefano, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy, introducing the report, said that over the past years, Italy had adopted renewed and comprehensive policies and measures to promote and protect children’s rights. The Law N°97/2018 had put the Ministry for Family and Disability in charge of national governance in matters of childhood and adolescence, while the 2017 law on accompanied and unaccompanied migrant children provided for their access to information, legal assistance, identification and protection, and the promotion of family reunification in Italy and other European countries. The Extraordinary Plan of Action against sexual and gender violence, the national plan to prevent and counter child abuse and exploitation 2015-2017, and an emergency helpline for children were measures in place, with proper financial resources, while in May 2017 Italy had included the bullying component in the definition of violence against children and adolescents. On the fight against child poverty, Mr. De Stefano highlighted the Basic Income for Inclusion, while further benefits for families and children would be introduced with the 2019 Budget Law.
In the dialogue with the delegation of Italy, Committee Experts took note of a host of action plans in relation to childhood, which raised concerns about the lack of a strategic vision on childhood and adolescents, in addition to coordination of all those plans. They flagged the declining vaccination rates, and the drop in the number of mothers who breastfed their children, and expressed concern about children’s mental health, since there was a great increase in the number of children diagnosed with specific learning disorders – some 250,000 children had been put into this group due to difficulties in reading, speaking, learning, or simply for poor performance at school. Child poverty, on the rise since the mid-1990s and worsened by the Euro-zone crisis, retained Experts’ attention, especially the austerity measures and their impact on children, the important disparity in child poverty rates between the north and south of Italy, and the social protection system heavily skewed towards the old, as 59.1 per cent of its funds were spent on old-age pensions and only four per cent on families.
Reports of numerous cases of children sexually abused by clergymen in Italy were a great source of concern, especially the impunity for those acts, considering that few had been tried and that usually they received very lenient sanctions. Experts were impressed by the 2017 law on unaccompanied foreign minors that defined them as right holders and prescribed their equal treatment to Italian or European Union minors, but its delayed operationalization was a source of concern. The delegation was also asked to comment on reports of the Italian Navy intercepting boats carrying migrants in the high seas and forcing them to return to the port of departure; measures to ensure that companies mainstreamed children’s rights in their operations domestically and abroad; birth registration of migrant children; and the fight against corruption due to which Italy lost an estimated US$ 236 billion a year.
Jorge Cardona Llorens, Committee Co-Rapporteur for Italy, in concluding remarks, commended the progress Italy continued to make in the area of children’s rights, and noted that concerns remained about the situation of refugee, migrant and asylum seeking children, as well as disparities and inequalities linked to the place of birth.
Fabrizio Petri, President of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, in his concluding remarks, reiterated Italy’s strong belief in the importance of applying in a formal and complete way the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Renate Winter, Committee Chairperson, concluded by commending Italy for its system which guaranteed the rights of children to visit their parents in prison, noting that this was a best practice that the Committee was recommending to other States parties.
The delegation of Italy consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, Ministry of Education, University and Research, Ministry of Health, Istituto degli Innocenti – Florence, and the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings will be available via the following link: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/.
The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 24 January to review the combined fifth and sixth periodic report of Belgium (CRC/C/BEL/5-6).
The Committee has before it the combined fifth and sixth periodic report of Italy (CRC/C/ITA/5-6).
Presentation of the Report
ERNESTO MASSIMO BALLELLI, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to United Nations Office at Geneva, stressed the utmost importance that Italy attached to this constructive dialogue with the Committee and then introduced the Italian delegation.
MANLIO DE STEFANO, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy, introducing the report, said that over the past years, Italy had adopted renewed and comprehensive policies and measures to promote and protect children’s rights, strengthening positive results accomplished until now. On 1 January 2019, Italy had started its membership in the Human Rights Council, with a commitment to support international initiatives and programmes aimed at ensuring the enjoyment by all children of all their rights without any discrimination. Special effort would be devoted to protecting children from trafficking, especially foreign unaccompanied children, in terms of identification, assistance, healthcare, education, and protection from detention. Italy was committed to strengthening its action to prevent and combat child pornography, and support child victims of violence, sexual abuse and trafficking, and would continue to promote education for all children, adolescents and young people to be agents of positive transformation.
At the domestic level, the recently adopted Law N°97/2018 provided for the reorganization of competences of ministries, putting the Ministry for Family and Disability in charge of national governance in matters of childhood and adolescence. It had the competence for the coordination of activities of the National Observatory for Childhood and Adolescence, the Observatory for the Fight against Paedophilia and Child Pornography, and the National Fund for Childhood and Adolescence. The setting up of an independent national human rights institution was ongoing, Mr. De Stefano said, while the independent National Authority for Childhood and Adolescence had been in place since 2011. The fourth national action plan of actions and interventions for the protection of the rights and development of children and adolescents of 2016 focused on the key areas of combatting child and family poverty, offering social-educational services for early childhood and a quality school system, and creating strategies for social and school integration and support to parenthood.
Profound change, Mr. De Stefano continued, had taken place in the national policies for the promotion and protection of the rights of children and adolescents over the last three or four years. Italy had been managing the serious inflow of migrants seeking asylum or better economic conditions, but since migration was not temporary in nature, a multi-level and strategic approach to managing migratory flows and addressing their root causes was essential. The Special Unit for the Reception of Foreign Unaccompanied Minors, set up in 2014, currently hosted 2,158 unaccompanied minors, while new and comprehensive legislation on accompanied and unaccompanied minors, adopted in 2017, provided for their access to information, legal assistance, cultural mediation, identification and protection, and the promotion of family reunification in Italy and other European countries.
Turning to violence against children, the Under-Secretary of State reiterated Italy’s strong commitment to preventing and punishing all its forms, and to fighting harmful traditional practices such as child, early and forced marriage. The Extraordinary Plan of Action against sexual and gender violence, the national plan to prevent and counter child abuse and exploitation 2015-2017, and an emergency helpline for children were in place, with proper financial resources. With the Act N°71 of May 2017 that included the bullying component in the definition of violence against children and adolescents, Italy had joined the preventive and reparative approach to counter bullying, and enhanced the responsibility of the young in the use of new tools of communication and information sharing within the digital education and school 2.0 framework. On the fight against child poverty, Mr. De Stefano highlighted the Income for Inclusion, which was composed of two measures: an economic benefit that varied depending on the household size and income, and support for social services, including pathways to employment, while further benefits for families and children would be introduced with the Budget Law 2018. In conclusion, Mr. De Stefano stressed that, faced with new challenges, a concrete promotion and protection of the rights of children and adolescents must be a key priority.
Questions by the Committee Experts
OLGA KHAZOVA, Committee Vice-Chair and Co-Rapporteur for Italy, at the outset welcomed the ratification by Italy of the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure, and then asked the delegation to explain under what conditions the age of marriage could be lowered to 16. Turning to the issue of discrimination, Ms. Khazova acknowledged the national strategy for Roma and Sinti, and actions in favour of children from poor families, and asked about concrete and tangible outcomes of those efforts.
The delegation was asked to explain how parents could complete the birth registration of children born out of wedlock and how regional variations in procedures were dealt with, the intentions concerning the adoption of the European Convention on the legal status of children born out of wedlock, and the legal status of children born in same sex civil unions. Italy allowed secret births, for mothers who did not want to recognize their children, the Co-Rapporteur noted, asking about emotional and psychological support available to new mothers to avoid child abandonment, and in some cases, infanticide. Could children below the age of 12 be heard by court and child protection officers, and could the delegation explain the application of the best interest of the child?
Another Expert remarked on a host of action plans in relation to childhood, which raised the concern about the lack of a strategic vision on childhood and adolescents. What system was in place to ensure the coordination of all those plans? What was the status of the independent national human rights institution, had it been set up, and when would the new data collection system and the centralised social services be rolled out across the country? All the children must know about the Convention and their rights, in order to claim them, the Expert said, asking about measures taken to raise awareness about the Convention and its Optional Protocols among vulnerable children.
While the birth registration of Italian children was compulsory, there were concerns about the registration of children born to migrant parents, the Expert said, raising questions about children born to stateless parents, and the status of the proposed law on nationality for those born on Italian soil.
Other Experts asked whether Italy would evaluate the impact of austerity measures on the realization of children’s rights, and about concrete steps to address the problem of the dwindling social expenditure and of regional disparities in the allocation of resources and the spending on children. Italy lost an estimated US$ 236 billion a year to corruption. The law on corruption had been adopted in 2018 – what provisions did it contain, especially those aiming to curb corruption in public procurement, and what enforcement mechanism was in place?
On businesses and human rights, what was being done to ensure that companies mainstreamed children’s rights in their operations domestically and abroad, and what procedures were available to provide access to justice and remedy for children victims of violations by Italian or Italian-based corporations.
The definition of violence against children in the legislation was still rather limited, so Italy should consider adopting a comprehensive definition as outlined in the Committee’s General Comment N°13, an Expert said, and recognizing the many positive initiatives to prevent and combat sexual exploitation and abuse of children, asked whether the impact of the national action plan to 2017 had been assessed and whether it would be extended. How was the plan rolled out and implemented in the regions?
The Committee was extremely concerned by reports of numerous cases of children sexually abused by clergymen in Italy and especially the impunity for those acts, considering that few had been tried and that usually they received very lenient sanctions, including a virtual absence of imprisonment, but rather home arrests and other forms of alternative sentences.
The delegation was asked about the procedure in place when an intersex child was born, and whether surgeries and medical procedures performed without consent were prosecuted.
Replies by the Delegation
The legal age of marriage was 18 years, and exceptionally was allowed at 16. In such a case, the minor had to petition the court, which would establish the psychophysical maturity of the minor and that there was no coercion into the marriage. The concept of legitimate child had been repealed and all children, regardless of whether born in or out of wedlock, enjoyed equal rights. Same-sex couples could not access assisted procreation procedures, but had the right to adopt.
As for the right of the child to be heard as set out by the reformed civil code and the reformed adoption law, judges had to hear the opinion of the child above the age of 12, while increasingly, they were opting to hear a younger child, depending on the kind of the case and the maturity of the child. Almost always, they heard the child in custody procedures.
Family planning and health clinics had been set up in 1978 and were present throughout the territory, and under the 2017 regulations, they received support to deliver psychosocial services to pregnant women and new mothers. In 2018, the Government had allocated €3 million, in addition to resources provided by the regions, for perinatal emergencies and to support women and families following the birth. The law provided for secret birth, whereby women could go to hospital, give birth, and abandon the child, who would then be immediately put up for adoption. In such cases, under the guidance of the Ministry of Health, health data was collected from the mother, to enable the child to know his or her medical history.
The Presidency of the Council of Ministers focused on the synergy and coordination of various bodies active in the domain of childhood and adolescence, including the Observatory for Childhood and Adolescence, the Observatory for the Fight against Paedophilia and Child Pornography, and the National Fund for Childhood and Adolescence, and the related strategies and action plans. Those agencies and bodies emphasized building synergies with other agencies in their work, as well as linking up with the regions and civil society organizations. The latest finance law had finally increased the budget for family support activities, which now stood at €100 million. The monitoring of the national action plan on childhood and adolescence had been concluded in September 2018.
In August 2018, the Observatory for the Fight against Paedophilia and Child Pornography had been added to the competence of the Ministry for Family and Disability. It was composed of representatives of the Government and civil society organizations, while the Ombudsmen for children and adolescents was an independent observer.
The social welfare system had been reformed in 2017 to strengthen the fight against poverty and data collection. The integrated data collection system, the use of which was now compulsory for all the regions, connected the three funds: the fund for poverty, the fund for dependency, and the fund for childhood and adolescents. The aim was for it to become a basis for the streamlined benefit system.
All women who gave birth in Italy, including migrant women and irregular migrant women, received a birth certificate issued by the attending physician or a midwife. In addition, undocumented women who gave birth were accorded a six-month residence permit.
The delegation said that the responses to questions raised on the new law against corruption and the code of conduct for the media would be submitted in writing within 48 hours.
A programme had been implemented in 14 large Italian cities to promote activities to make it easier for Roma, Sinti and other vulnerable children aged 6 to 14 to attend school, which had raised school enrolment rates by 20 per cent. Until 2017, the programme had been approved and financed on a yearly basis, while now the financing was being released on a three-year basis; it came from the European Union, and the focus had been expanded from the child to his or her classroom, school and community.
In 2016, Italy had been one of the first countries in the world to release the national plan on business and human rights, elaborated in cooperation with the Danish Institute for Human Rights, renowned for its focus on vulnerable individuals and groups. In 2018, the plan had been revised in a participatory manner, during which over 80 voices from all stakeholders had been heard. The plan included a number of activities related to children. The adherence and participation of businesses was on a voluntary basis. Together with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development focal point, important work on supply chains was ongoing, and this was particularly relevant for the rights of the child.
The Penal Code prohibited corporal punishment in the family which it defined as an offence against a person, while its systematic use was defined as ill treatment and parents risked losing their parental rights. Priests could not be compelled to denounce and report acts of violence against children, while an act of violence against a child committed by a priest was an aggravated circumstance. Italy was becoming more stringent in prosecuting acts of violence against children.
Gender assignment surgery was regulated by the 1982 law which prescribed that the cost of operating on ambiguous genitalia was covered by the State. In 2015, the Constitutional Court had restated the principle for the need of a judicial review on sex change in old cases. Italy would amend the sex determination on the certificate of birth assistance to include also the category of undetermined.
Questions by Committee Experts
OLGA KHAZOVA, Committee Vice-Chair and Co-Rapporteur for Italy, noted that the Constitution protected motherhood, childhood and youth, and asked whether it was not time to also protect fatherhood too. Italy’s programme on deinstitutionalization and to prevent the removal of children from the family environment was impressive, the Co-Rapporteur said, asking the delegation to explain how family foster care functioned across the country. How many children were in residential and family foster care, and in other forms of alternative care, and could they be reunited with their families?
Italy was a party to three Hague child conventions; for two of them, the Ministry of Justice had been appointed as an overseeing authority, but The Hague Convention on parental responsibility and protection of children was being overseen by the Office of the Prime Minister. Could the delegation comment?
The Co-Rapporteur flagged the declining vaccination rates, and the drop in the number of mothers who breastfed their children, and then expressed concern about children’s mental health, since there was a great increase in the number of children diagnosed with specific learning disorders – some 250,000 children had been put into this group due to difficulties in reading, speaking, learning, or simply for poor performance at school.
Another Expert raised the question of worsening conditions in public hospitals, especially in the south of Italy. Since the mid-1990s, child poverty had been on the rise, worsened by the Euro-zone crisis. What was being done to counter this trend, especially given the austerity measures that Italy had adopted, and could the delegation comment on the important disparity in child poverty rates between the north and south of the country? The social protection system was heavily skewed toward the old: 59.1 per cent was spent on old-age pensions, and only four per cent on families.
Regarding children with disabilities, Italy had made great strides in their social inclusion, but concern remained about data collection, especially for the very young and children with intellectual disabilities, and about the absence of services and approaches to the early identification of disabilities. There were still specialized schools for children with disabilities, and in mainstream schools, there were special classes, usually for children with autism, learning disabilities, and intellectual disabilities, while great disparities in resources allocated for inclusive education between the north and south of the country continued.
The Committee applauded Italy’s efforts to ensure that all children completed primary and secondary education which was free of charge and of good quality, but it remained concerned about the number of Roma, Sinti and Caminante children who dropped out. It seemed that the key reason for drop out was the forced eviction of children and their families. Italy had invested about €5 billion between 2014 and 2017 to improve school infrastructure, and yet, 15 per cent of the schools were practically crumbling.
Surrogacy was prohibited by law, but there were Italian couples who contracted surrogate mothers in other countries, for example in Ukraine. How were they treated by the law when they returned to Italy with a child that was clearly a result of surrogacy? What awareness activities had been conducted among the public on the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, especially to change attitudes towards children and adolescents involved in prostitution and see them as victims?
On the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the Expert welcomed the criminalization of the sale of small weapons to countries where children participated in armed conflict, and asked whether Italy would prohibit the enlistment and use of children in armed conflict, and whether this would be considered as a ground to grant asylum?
The Experts raised concern about irregularities in the treatment of migrant children in reception centres, mediocre conditions in some reception centres for migrates, refugees and asylum seekers, as well as the lack of effective procedures to identify children in need of international protection. Italy had recently decided to suspend the asylum procedure for migrants – including children – who seemed to present a “danger”, the Expert remarked, raising concern about the impact on child protection of the very wide and ambiguous term “danger”. Could the delegation confirm that a law had been passed that would replace juvenile justice courts and judges?
The Committee said that the 2017 law on unaccompanied foreign minors, which prescribed that they were rights holders and enjoyed equal treatment with minors of Italian or European citizenship, was very impressive, but the operationalization of that law had been delayed. Why was this? The delegation was also asked to comment on the reports of the Italian Navy intercepting boats carrying migrants in the high seas and forcing them to return to the port of departure.
Replies by the Delegation
Paternity was a key issue in Italy, which was well aware of the need to reform the legislation and also undertake a change of deep-seated societal attitudes. The most recent Budget Law of 2019 provided for five days of mandatory paternity leave, while new fathers had an option of taking additional days on a voluntary basis.
About €15 million had been made available to strengthen the Family Centres which supported families, including to support the role of fathers in families and households. The Budget Law of 2019 had emphasized the role of the Fund for Family Policies, which had received additional funding of €100 million, to provide, inter alia, support to separated parents, including fathers. In 2017 and 2018, an awareness raising campaign to promote the value and importance of mandatory paternity leave – ELENA – had been implemented. The Parenting Plus programme promoted eight activities of particular benefit to children, while the First 1,000 Days campaign would start soon, to promote the importance of the development and wellbeing of the child from day one; this campaign would pay particular attention to the role of the father.
In all matters involving children, their best interest must be put at the centre. The rights of the child to a family was recognized by the Constitution and it was always prioritized. Sometimes, the birth family environment was not an option that ensured the best interest of the child, in which case the child was removed. The Adoption Law, amended in 2015, guaranteed the right of the child in foster care to maintain a relationship with the birth family. This law also defined that children who had been in foster care for a long time were adoptable, and the priority was given to the foster family, should they wish to adopt. The 2012 fostering guidelines were in place and were equally applied by all regions, and there were also guidelines for preventing the removal of the child from the family environment and providing efficient support to families.
At the end of 2016, there had been 14,500 children in foster care who were there by a judicial decision, as well as another 12,500 children, and this number did not include unaccompanied foreign minors. Of the 100 adoptable children with disabilities, 80 had been adopted; others had not been adopted either because they were too old or because they had a very serious impairment. Family fostering was not a service financed by the State, but the costs families incurred were reimbursed; each region set a ceiling for reimbursable costs. The Fund for Care Leavers was in place for fostered children who reached the age of majority, to support them to complete their studies, enter the labour market, and achieve independence; €5 million had been allocated to the Fund.
In 2018, 25 abducted children had been returned to Italy. As of January 2019, there were 50 mothers with 57 children in detention, of which 38 children were under the age of six. Italy placed particular importance on preserving the mother-child relationship, and in 2008 it had set up a unit to protect women detained with children.
Italy aimed to immunize 85 per cent of the population. In July 2017, Parliament had approved the law which had increased the number of compulsory vaccinations from four to 10, and prescribed free and compulsory vaccination for all minors under the age of 16 and all unaccompanied foreign minors. Vaccination was compulsory and counterfeiting vaccination certificates was a criminal offence, said the delegate, recognizing a problem in vaccination certification in those regions which still did not have computerized data entry and management. The National Vaccination Register had been set up and would facilitate the protection of children’s personal data under the European Data Protection Regulations. In August 2018, the Ministry of Health had set up the national immunization technical advisory group to establish the national vaccination policy. In response to the 2018 measles outbreak, when over 2,000 cases had been reported in Italy, of which half were in Sicily, an intensive awareness raising campaign had been put in place, as well as an information campaign for vaccination in December 2018, which ran on the national television and featured an Italian astronaut.
The technical roundtable to promote breastfeeding had been set up in May 2017, the delegation said, noting that data on breastfeeding rates was neither reliable nor comprehensive. The Ministry of Health was working on implementing strategies to promote breastfeeding, which included disincentives to use breath milk substitutes, encouragement of rooming in hospitals at birth, breastfeeding on demand, and home visits by midwives to support new mothers.
Early detection of disability, including learning and intellectual disabilities, was a priority, the delegation said, adding that the national guidelines for diagnosing learning difficulties were in place throughout the country. There were about 250,000 children and young people in schools who had problems with reading, writing or math. Before the 2010 law that introduced support for children with learning difficulties in schools, such children were seen simply as not paying sufficient attention, and not as children who needed specialized support.
In a bid to reduce the impact of austerity measures on families and children and combat poverty, active support to families - financial benefits and social inclusion activities – was being provided since 2012, with a focus on families with children. The support was provided on the basis of an agreement with the family, which committed to, e.g. actively search for work or ensure that children were in school. Between 2013 and 2017, €450 million had been allocated for this purpose. The Basic Income for Inclusion, another benefit, prioritized families with children, pregnant women or persons with disabilities, and provided support on the social welfare model and on the assessment of the family needs. In 2018, €1.7 billion had been allocated, together with €300 million for extra support services for social workers in the field; 379,000 families with one million people had benefitted. In July 2018, the Basic Income for Inclusion had been expanded from families with children to all the population, and in with the 2019 Budget Law, it had evolved into the Basic Citizenship Income, which focused on the requirement of actively job seeking. A total of €7.1 billion had been allocated for 2019, and the benefit to families would reach €780 per month. The delegation stressed that this measure would ease disparities between the north and south of Italy, as more than 60 per cent of the measures were for the southern regions, and also underlined that the benefits were means-tested.
Beyond and above those sizeable financial benefits, Italy had initiated the updating of its social welfare services in 2012, in order to put in place a multidimensional assessment and ensure that families were better served. Some €3 million per year were being provided for the PIPI Project, and 200,000 social workers were working with families in the field.
On inclusive education, the delegation said that the Observation for Education within the Ministry of Education had been strengthened to monitor, analyse, inform and propose the rules in the area of disability. Each child with disabilities attending school had a personal support plan defined by the child, the family, and the school. The Observatory supported the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and Italy fully subscribed to its motto “nothing about us without us”, and had abolished specialized classes by law, ensuring the inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream education. Several specialized institutions remained that dealt with visual or hearing impairments, also because the families of children with disabilities asked for those institutions.
Some €5 billion had been allocated for the Safe Schools Programme to strengthen school infrastructure and ensure that children attended schools in healthy and safe buildings. It was possible to transcribe the birth of a child born abroad to a surrogate mother, the delegation confirmed.
Italy had put in place strategies and initiatives and allocated resources to address violence against children, focusing in particular on families and adolescents, in a belief that combatting violence against children started with teaching the youth about violence. In 2017, the anti-cyber bullying law had been passed, which provided for a very broad definition of cyber bullying, thus making it easier to prosecute and sanction. The national toolkit would be soon introduced to support families with early detection of online violence.
The participation of children in armed conflict was prohibited by the law, while conscription into the Italian army had been suspended. The age of recruitment into armed conflict was 18, while it was possible for children aged 15 to 18 to enrol in a military school. During their studies, they were considered to be school students and were protected by the law from participation in any military operations or in hostilities.
The migrants emergency had meant that Italy had had to open, in a very short span of time, thousands of new places to provide the migrants with accommodation and care. For many years, Italy had been financing the multi-agency programme run by the United Nations Refugee Agency, the International Organization for Migration, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Save the Children, which focused on the early detection of vulnerable groups and providing them with care and support. Great efforts were being dedicated to fighting trafficking in persons, the delegate added, noting that in 2017, the authorities had identified 1,051 victims of trafficking in persons, of which 121 had been children, and all had received adequate care and support.
With regard to access of children to justice, the delegation stressed the importance of children knowing their rights, adding that education played a special role in ensuring this. There were 149 projects financed in this area, and over 60 modules had been developed to teach children about issues such as corruption, disability, gaming addiction, what to do if a child was a victim of crime, online bullying, violence, and many others.
JORGE CARDONA LLORENS, Committee Co-Rapporteur for Italy, in concluding remarks, thanked the delegation for an open and candid dialogue and commended the progress Italy continued to make in the area of children’s rights. Still, concerns remained about the situation of refugee, migrant and asylum seeking children, as well as disparities and inequalities linked to the place of birth. As a result of some recent policies on migration, children were dying in the Mediterranean Sea because they could not reach Europe, and organizations seeking to help those children should not be criminalized.
FABRIZIO PETRI, President of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, in his concluding remarks, reiterated Italy’s strong belief in the importance of applying in a complete and formal manner the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and said that Italy, as a new member of the Human Rights Council, was committed to working with human rights treaty bodies, and especially this body which was dedicated to children’s rights.
RENATE WINTER, Committee Chairperson, concluded by commending Italy for its system which guaranteed the visiting rights for children to visit their parents in prison, noting that this was a best practice that the Committee was recommending to other States parties.
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