ERRC Welcomes Concluding Observations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on Italy

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), an international public interest law organisation which monitors the situation of Roma in Europe and provides legal defense in cases of human rights abuse, welcomes the Concluding Observations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on Italy's compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In its Concluding Observations released at the end of its 32nd Session, the Committee expressed its concern about "racist incidents against minorities; the use of hate speech in public presentations; the disparities in the enjoyment of economic and social rights, particularly health, social welfare, education, and housing experienced by poor children, Roma children, non-Italian children". As regards torture and ill-treatment, the Committee is "deeply concerned about allegations of instances of ill-treatment by law enforcement officers against children and at the prevalence of abuse, in particular against foreign and Roma children" and about "the existing discrimination against children from foreign origin and Roma children within the juvenile justice system".

In the section on children belonging to minority groups, the Committee singles out the particularly problematic situation of Romani children and notes its persisting concern "at their difficult social situation and their insufficient access to education and health services". In addition, the Committee is "deeply concerned at instances of discrimination against this group of children, sometimes from the personnel of the State party themselves." The Committee recommends that "the State party develop in cooperation with Roma NGOs comprehensive proactive policies and programmes to prevent social exclusion and discrimination, and to allow Roma children to fully enjoy their rights, including access to education and health care."

With respect to discrimination against vulnerable groups of children, including Roma, the Committee recommends that the Italian Government "take all appropriate measures, such as comprehensive public education campaigns, to prevent and combat negative societal attitudes", "strengthen its efforts to incriminate and take appropriate penal sanctions against any act of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance", "carefully and regularly evaluate existing disparities in the enjoyment by children of their rights and undertake on the basis of this evaluation the necessary steps to prevent and eliminate discrimination through proactive measures", and "continue to prioritize and target resources and social services to children belonging to the most vulnerable groups". The Committee recommends that the Government "take all necessary measures, including awareness campaign and adequate training of the personnel involved [in the administration of juvenile justice], to prevent and eliminate discrimination against children from foreign origin and Roma children" and "systematically train the police and carabinieri forces as well as professional[s] of detention centers on the human rights of children". Furthermore, the Committee also recommends that the Italian Government "strengthen its mechanism for collecting and analyzing disaggregated data on persons under 18 for all areas covered by the Convention" should be "strengthened", with "special emphasis on the most vulnerable groups, including children with disabilities, Roma children, children belonging to migrant families \205 and children of economically and socially
disadvantaged households."

The full text of the Committee's Concluding Observations is available HERE.

In preparation for the Committee's review of Italy's compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child on January 16, 2003, the ERRC submitted written comments documenting human rights violations against Romani children in Italy. The full text of the ERRC letter of concern to the Committee is available at: ERRC: International Advocacy .

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