University of Minnesota

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, Italy, U.N. Doc. A/50/18, paras. 77-109 (1995).



Forty-sixth session


Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination



77. The eighth and ninth periodic reports of Italy (CERD/C/237/Add.1) were considered by the Committee at its 1075th to 1077th meetings, on 1 and 2 March 1995 (see CERD/C/SR.1075 to 1077).

78. The report was introduced by the representative of the State party who stated that his country attached particular importance to all problems concerning discrimination and intolerance. However, he noted that events that could amount to intolerance had occurred in areas where there was a particularly high concentration of foreigners from countries outside Europe, mostly from North Africa. He noted the importance, during recent years, of persons migrating, de facto or de jure, into Italy, especially from North Africa and Eastern European countries. In the case of displaced persons from the former Yugoslavia, he made reference to a special law which gave them the opportunity to enter Italy, at least temporarily, and to be provided with housing, food, education and so on.

79. The representative also made reference to the monitoring of the problem of nomads, in particular to facilities with regard to the schooling of children and other social action programmes. He emphasized that Italy had deemed it appropriate to take a step forward in its action to prevent and punish any form of racism, intolerance and xenophobia by adopting Act No. 205, criminalizing the mere act of incitement to discrimination and expanding the content of the term "racial discrimination". This new legislation had made it possible for the judiciary and the police to take action against neo-Nazi organizations. The representative indicated that the Ministry of Education recently reminded local authorities of the need to intensify efforts to achieve inter-cultural education in schools at all levels.

80. Members of the Committee welcomed the detailed information given in the report and orally, but they noted that the report concentrated on legal provisions; it failed to provide information on the nature of the problems or to supply practical examples showing the implementation of laws and policies. They asked the representative whether non-governmental organizations were involved in the preparation of periodic reports and whether the Committee's concluding observations were given any publicity.

81. With reference to article 2 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished to receive information about the effectiveness of the new provisions described in paragraphs 7 to 15 of the report. They also wished to receive precise information on the extreme right-wing groups and gangs of "skinheads" referred to in the report; whether they had links with political parties; whether they attracted young people; what penalties were imposed on those groups through the new Act No. 205 of 25 June 1993 and what follow-up there had been by the police and the courts to the reported incidents of violence against foreigners. They expressed satisfaction for the special status given to three regions inhabited by persons speaking minority languages, and asked for information on the status of other linguistic minorities elsewhere in Italy. They also asked for more information about specific cases of racial violence in the recent past, particularly against Romas, Jews and people from North Africa. In addition, they asked the representative to provide the Committee with information on the demographic composition of the Italian population, with specific reference to ethnic minorities, including the Roma community; on racist incidents and on social indicators, which included the crime rate and the rates of imprisonment, alcoholism, drug use and trafficking, prostitution, suicide and certain diseases, especially AIDS, for various groups, such as foreign nationals and migrant workers.

82. With regard to article 4 of the Convention, members wanted to know whether the laws referred to in the report, in particular Decree-Law No. 122, had been fully implemented; whether individuals or groups had been prosecuted under those laws; whether the provisions described covered all aspects of racial discrimination referred to in article 4 of the Convention and whether revisionism was a crime in Italy. They also wanted to know whether consideration was given by his Government to withdrawing the reservation made to article 4 of the Convention.

83. Concerning article 5 of the Convention, members wished to know whether there was any surveillance of police operations; what action was taken in respect of the victims of racial discrimination by the police and whether those responsible for discrimination were retrained or disciplined. They asked whether the legislation concerning political asylum for non-European Union citizens (Act No. 39 of February 1990) was more restrictive in matters relating to the status and employment of the people concerned than the ordinary Italian legislation in those areas and whether there were plans to amend this Act; they asked about the results of the campaign to get non-European Union citizens to renew their residence permits and on any discrimination against migrant workers in the workplace and in housing. They would have liked information on the regulations governing the deportation of aliens; on statistics about the number and nationality of aliens deported in recent years, and where they had been sent; on people refused admission to Italy on the grounds of public order; on the number of people granted political asylum in Italy and their countries of origin; on the number of people currently living in centres for immigrants and in "reception facilities", on the conditions in those centres and facilities and on the possibility for courts, foreigners' associations or interested non-governmental organizations to have access to them in order to monitor conditions there, and whether special arrangements were made for Albanians and refugees from the former Yugoslavia. They also asked for information on the council for the problems of non-European Union workers and their families, on the way immigrants' representatives were chosen, and on the existence of any special agreement between the State and the Muslim community comparable to that between the State and the Jewish community.

84. With regard to article 6 of the Convention, members of the Committee regretted that there seemed to have been no developments in the individual's right to seek redress before the courts for acts of racial discrimination; in that connection, they asked for details and statistics on complaints, prosecutions and convictions in cases of acts of racism of all kinds. With regard to the reservation made by Italy to article 6 of the Convention, members asked whether consideration was given to its withdrawal.

85. Concerning article 7 of the Convention, members asked for more information about measures taken to promote inter-cultural and multiracial education; on the integration of foreign pupils into Italian schools in practice and on the number of pupils, including those from non-European Union countries, receiving education on an individual or small-group basis.

86. In their reply, the representatives of Italy said that a procedure for the withdrawal of Italy's reservations to the Convention had been set in motion. All the statistical information which members had requested would be provided later in writing. However, they were able to state that, according to the local authorities and some NGOs, there had been about 300,000 illegal residents in Italy at the end of 1994. The 1990 Martelli Act had changed the regulations governing immigrants by enabling the authorities to set a yearly limit on the number of aliens who would be allowed to immigrate into Italy, with the figure being published each year in a decree. That Act had also provided for a national council and regional councils of representatives of workers from non-European Union countries appointed directly by non-Union workers' associations. The membership of those councils reflected the size of the various communities in each area. Some regions had laws encouraging the formation of non-Union workers' associations by granting subsidies. Illegal immigration continued to be a major social problem in Italy, but was difficult to monitor or eradicate.

87. On the question of reception centres, a distinction should be drawn between foreign nationals applying for refugee status and non-European Union workers. The former were permitted to stay for 45 days, pending the authorities' decision regarding their admission, and the latter were accommodated in primary reception centres set up in each region and subsidized by the State. They therefore had housing and health care and enjoyed freedom of movement. It was difficult to determine their exact number, as the centres were merely transit facilities. With regard to housing, a number of voluntary organizations acted as intermediaries between owners and foreign workers by acting as guarantors for the latter. Some local authorities reserved a portion of their public housing for foreign workers and their families and, in some cases, the State and local authorities made abandoned buildings available to immigrant communities, with the sole proviso that they renovate them.

88. Between 1991 and 1993, some 100 court actions had been instituted against persons responsible for acts of racial discrimination. In 20 cases, proceedings had been discontinued and in 20 others, sentences had been handed down. It should be noted, however, that those figures were incomplete as, in cases where an act of discrimination was associated with another crime or offence, it was often the latter which was the basis for the court's decision. Moreover, the measures associated with the new Act No. 205 of 25 June 1993 empowered the courts to impose penalties including the performance of community service. With regard to the number of racially-motivated incidents, three or four serious incidents involving criminal acts directed against the Roma community had taken place near Rome and two others near Bologna in which two members of the Roma community had died; a Roma encampment near Caseta had also been destroyed in a fire which had been deliberately set, resulting in charges being brought against 29 persons. Anti-semitic acts included three or four cases of desecration of Jewish cemeteries, for which a number of individuals had been prosecuted.

89. The representative of Italy said that, concerning the ban on organizations linked with Fascist ideology, a number of those organizations had been banned under a 1952 law, including the Ordine Nuovo and Fronte Celtico, and that some extreme right-wing or "skinhead" groups had been banned under Decree-Law No. 122 of 1993, including the Movimento Politico Occidentale in Rome and the Front Nazionale in Verona. Two groups of judges in Rome were concentrating on incidents of racial discrimination: one dealt with minority issues and the other with violent and politically linked incidents of xenophobia, racism and intolerance.

90. On the question of detention, there was no discrimination in law regarding the application of prison regulations; the prison authorities had attempted to remedy the language problem by providing excerpts from the regulations in foreign languages and offering Italian language courses. Measures had been taken to remove obstacles to the exercise of religious freedom in prisons. The prison authorities had facilitated the formation of a national organization to look into the question of foreign prisoners.

91. With regard to expulsions, under the Act of 12 August 1993, foreign nationals in pre-trial detention for offences not considered serious, or persons sentenced to imprisonment for up to three years were expelled immediately at their request or the request of their attorneys and were sent back to their country of origin or departure, provided they had no serious health problems or were not in danger for reasons related to war or an epidemic. Generally speaking, there were two expulsion procedures: expulsion orders, whereby the authorities gave notice to leave the country within 15 days and the person concerned could appeal to the local administrative tribunal (in 1994, only 6,000 of 56,000 expulsion orders issued had actually been carried out), and escort to the frontier in the case of persons guilty of very serious crimes or whose situation was highly irregular.

92. In connection with questions related to special agreements with the Muslim community in Italy, the representatives said that the Muslims had no supreme national authority, like that of Jews or Seventh Day Adventists, with which such an agreement could be concluded; however, there had been agreements between Italian authorities and Muslim communities at the local level.

Concluding observations

93. At its 1096th meeting, held on 16 March 1995, the Committee adopted the following concluding observations.

(a) Introduction

94. The Committee welcomes the opportunity to continue its regular dialogue with the Italian Government. It expresses its satisfaction at the presence of a large delegation, consisting mainly of officials of the various ministries concerned with the protection of human rights. While the report lacks information on some points and is not entirely in conformity with the Committee's guidelines for the preparation of reports, the information provided by the delegation during its oral introduction and the replies to a number of questions asked by members of the Committee shed light on a number of points not made clear in the report. Nevertheless, some questions remained unanswered.

(b) Positive aspects

95. It is noted with satisfaction that Italy is one of the States parties which has made the declaration under article 14 of the Convention and that it has in practice abandoned its reservations to the Convention and instituted a procedure for their formal withdrawal.

96. It is also noted that Italy grants special status, guaranteed under the Constitution, to some linguistic or ethnic minorities in the Trento-Alto Adige, Friuli-Veneto Giulia and Valle d'Aosta regions.

97. The establishment of national and regional councils for the problems of non-Community workers and their families is noted with interest. Positive measures have also been taken for the regularization, vocational training and health care of non-Community foreigners, as well as for the prevention of illegal employment.

98. The introduction of some new measures to combat the resurgence of racial violence is noted with satisfaction. These measures included Act No. 2061/C of 1992, instituting urgent measures on racial, ethnic and religious discrimination and, with regard to the right of asylum, the adoption of Act No. 39-90 of 1990 instituting urgent measures on political asylum, entry, residence and regularization of non-Community citizens and stateless persons.

99. New measures concerning inter-cultural education are also noted with satisfaction. They include additional hours of instruction for pupils experiencing problems, most of whom are pupils of foreign origin confronted with the language barrier, and the ministerial circular on the equal distribution of foreign pupils in classes to promote their social integration.

(c) Principal subjects of concern

100. Concerns are expressed about the manifestations of racism and xenophobia which seem to be on the rise in Italy, as in many other countries. One of the subjects of concern in this regard is the high proportion of young people in extremist groups involved in acts of racial violence and the support they are apparently able to secure from some political circles.

101. Concerns are expressed about some cases involving the ill-treatment of foreigners of non-Community origin by police officers and prison staff.

102. Concern is also expressed regarding the social trends towards segregation in housing and work.

103. Regret is also expressed regarding the limited amount of information in the first general part of the report and the absence of details on the practical implementation of articles 2 to 6 of the Convention.

(d) Suggestions and recommendations

104. The Committee recommends that the Italian authorities urgently make more effective the measures to curb racial violence and xenophobia in all their forms.

105. The Committee expects the Italian Government, in its next periodic report, to provide fuller information on the first general part and on the implementation of the provisions of the Convention, notably articles 2 to 6.

106. Emphasizing the decisive role of the justice system in eliminating racial discrimination, the Committee asks to be provided with information on the effectiveness of remedies in cases of racial discrimination, on the number and content of complaints of racial or racially motivated offences, and on the judicial action taken on those complaints and the redress or compensation awarded to the victims.

107. The Committee requests further information on the actual operation of reception centres for foreigners and refugees at frontiers, on the control exercised over those centres by the judicial authorities and on the extent to which refugee assistance associations and organizations are permitted access to them.

108. The Committee would also like, in future, to be provided with full and up-to-date data on the composition of the population, on the "social indicators" of non-integration of the least favoured social groups of the population, on migratory flows and on the number of foreigners expelled.

109. Finally, the Committee draws the State party's attention to the amendment to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, approved at the 14th meeting of States parties and by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/111, and invites it to consider taking measures necessary for the official acceptance of the amendment.




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