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The progress of the Assembly's monitoring procedure (January-December 2018) and the periodic review of the honouring of obligations by Iceland and Italy

Periodic review: Italy

Report | Doc. 14792 Part 3 (IT) | 14 January 2019

Committee
Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee)
Rapporteur :
Sir Roger GALE, United Kingdom, EC
Origin
See also Doc. 14792 Part 1 and Part 2. 2019 - First part-session

Summary

All member States of the Council of Europe that are not under a full monitoring procedure, or engaged in a post-monitoring dialogue, are the subject of a regular periodic review by the Monitoring Committee of the honouring of their membership obligations to the Council of Europe. In this report, the committee presents the periodic review on Italy. The committee concluded that Italy is globally fulfilling its membership obligations to the Council of Europe and, overall, its democratic institutions function in line with the standards of the Council of Europe. However, a number of concerns were raised, and recommendations made in that respect, that deserve the prompt attention of the authorities.

A Explanatory memorandum by Sir Roger Gale, rapporteur

1 Introduction

1 Italy is located in southern Europe and its peninsula and islands extend into the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. With a total area of around 300 000 km², the country has land borders with Austria, France, the Holy See, San Marino, Slovenia and Switzerland. Italy has around 60.7 million inhabitants, about 80% of which are Catholic Christians.
2 Inheriting the legacy of the Roman Empire and Renaissance, Italy became a unified nation-State in 1861 under King Victor Emmanuel II, when the Kingdom of Italy was founded.Note In 1922, the parliamentary government was replaced by a fascist dictatorship under Benito Mussolini, which lasted for two decades until Italy's defeat in the Second World War after a two-year civil war. Following liberation, the Italian Republic was established in 1946 by a popular referendum that abolished the monarchy and reinstated democracy.
3 The country plays a prominent role in regional and global politics. Italy is a founding member of the Council of Europe and of the European Economic Community, later transformed into the European Union; it joined the Schengen Area in 1997 and the Eurozone in 1999. Italy adhered to the United Nations in 1955 and is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Union for the Mediterranean.
4 Italy is the third largest economy in the Eurozone, the eighth largest in the world and among the leaders in world trade and exports.Note The economic and sovereign debt crisis did not spare the country and the Italian economy entered into a major recession in 2008, and again in 2011. Between 2007 and 2013, gross domestic product (GDP) declined by around 9%.Note Unemployment reached 13% in 2014, with youth unemployment reaching over 43.5%.Note Italy's sovereign debt increased to become the third largest in the worldNote and the public debt–GDP ratio increased from 100% in 2007 to 131.8% (i.e. more than 2.2 trillion euros) in 2018.Note In 2011, debt interest rates surged and Italy faced a government bond declassification by financial rating agencies; the European Central Bank (ECB) had to intervene to avoid a major crisis of the Eurozone.Note Banking system problems amplified the economic contraction. The crisis also highlighted the country's underlying structural weaknessesNote and increased regional disparities and the characteristic North-South divide of the Italian economy.Note Deep cuts in social spending led to great inequalities and increased poverty and triggered a number of anti-austerity protests between 2012 and 2014. In 2017, almost 15.6% of Italians lived in relative poverty and 8.4% in absolute poverty.Note In 2017, one in three children in Italy was considered at risk of poverty or social exclusion.Note
5 Under pressure from the financial markets, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, the Italian Parliament adopted in 2011 two austerity packages worth more than 90 billion euros in savingsNote and introduced the principle of balanced budget in the Constitution.Note Italy also adopted a number of structural economic reforms.Note According to the OECD, Italy's economy is slowly recovering, with a projected growth of GDP by 1% in 2017 and 0.8% in 2018.Note Unemployment has dropped but remains high and the economy is still running well below its potential, due to the structural weaknesses and the legacy of the crisis. In September 2018, a coalition government was formed after the 2018 elections (see below) and proposed a draft budget reflecting (partially) the two coalition parties’ election campaign promises, including tax cuts, a universal basic income and pension changes. The draft budget submitted by the Italian authorities to the European Commission included a deficit of 2.4% of GDP in 2019 (instead of the 0,8% previously foreseen), which the authorities presented as an anticyclical economic boost to tackle the public debt of 130% GDP, twice above the limit fixed by the European Commission (60%). As a consequence, the European Commission rejected this proposal on 23 October 2018 and asked the Italian authorities to present a new document within three weeks. Following the agreement reached by the Italian Government and the European Commission, including the limitation of the budgetary deficit to 2.04% of the PIB, the 2019 budget was adopted on 29 December 2018 by the Italian Parliament.
6 At the same time, Italy remains heavily affected by the ongoing refugee and migration crisis in Europe. Due to the country's geographical location and to the gradual closure of other migratory routes to the European Union, the central Mediterranean route has again become the main entry point for refugees and migrants to Europe.Note
7 Italy has a special relation with the Holy See,Note which is sovereign over Vatican City. Bilateral relations, which were complex and even hostile in the past, were normalised with the ratification of the Lateran Pacts in 1929.Note In 1947, they were incorporated into the Italian Constitution, which stipulates that “[t]he [Italian] State and the Catholic Church are independent and sovereign, each within its own sphere” (Article 7). In 1984, an agreement was signed between Italy and the Holy See, revising the Lateran Concordat. This agreement removed the status of Roman Catholicism as the sole State religion in Italy and ended direct State financing of the Church.Note In 2012, following an investigation by the European Commission into alleged illegal State aid, Italy amended its legislation to remove some of the Church's historic property tax exemptions in order to comply with EU law.Note Although the power of the Church has decreased, Catholicism remains the predominant religion in Italy and the Church and the Pope still enjoy considerable societal and political influence.Note
8 Since its accession to the Council of Europe, Italy has ratified 131 Council of Europe treaties and signed 48 additional treaties without ratification.Note In February 2017, Italy ratified the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism (CETS No. 196), its additional protocol (CETS No. 217) and the Council of Europe Convention on Money Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism (CETS No. 198). On 1 August 2018, it ratified the Protocol amending the European Landscape Convention (CETS No. 219).
9 A number of important treaties still await ratification by Italy:
  • in Resolution 1953 (2013), the AssemblyNote called on Italy to ratify the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ETS No. 148) and Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 177). The authorities explained that shortly before signing the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Italy had drafted in 1999 Law No. 482 to transpose the Charter’s principles into the Italian legal system. Additionally, Italy has joined the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (ETS No. 157), signed in 1995 and ratified in 1997.Note The Framework Convention and the 1999 Law are currently the main national legislative yardsticks for the protection of linguistic minorities, also in terms of implementation;Note
  • at the time of writing, no additional information is available on a possible ratification of the European Convention on Nationality (ETS No. 166);
  • concerning the ratification of Protocols Nos. 15 and 16 to the European Convention on Human Rights (CETS Nos. 213 and 214), a bill was recently submitted to the parliament for ratification.
10 This periodic report was drafted in line with Resolution 2018 (2014) on the progress of the Assembly's monitoring procedure (October 2013-September 2014) and the explanatory memorandum approved by the committee on 17 March 2015. It is based on the most recent findings of the Council of Europe monitoring mechanisms, the reports of the Assembly and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights and, when relevant, reports prepared by other international and civil society organisations. I would like to thank the authorities and the members of the Italian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly who provided, in November 2018, extensive comments on my preliminary draft report.Note
11 This report is not intended to be an exhaustive review but aims to provide an analysis of the main developments in the country with regard to Council of Europe standards and obligations. The rapporteur has focussed on major challenges faced by Italy in the field of the functioning of its democratic institutions and administration of justice as well as human rights issues related to the migration crisis.

2 Democracy

2.1 Constitutional and electoral system

12 Italy is a parliamentary Republic with power divided among the executive, the legislative and judicial branches. The current Italian Constitution was drafted in the aftermath of the Second World War with the aim of preventing any resurgence of dictatorship.Note To that extent, it established a constitutional system with a weak executive that is politically accountable to a strong bicameral parliament.
13 The President of the Republic is the Head of State. He is elected jointly by the two houses of the parliament and serves for a seven-year term of office. The President represents national unity and is the guarantor of the Constitution. Separate from all branches, he ensures the balancing of powers, and has himself the power to dissolve the parliament.Note He appoints the ministers proposed by the Prime Minister, nominates for lifetime a limited number of non-elected Senators and presides over the High Council of the Judiciary and, as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, over the Supreme Council of Defence. The President has also other formal and ceremonial duties. The current President is Sergio Mattarella, who succeeded Giorgio Napolitano in January 2015.Note
14 Executive power is exercised collectively by the Council of Ministers. The government is led by the Prime Minister, whose official title is President of the Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister and, on his proposal, the other ministers are appointed by the President of the Republic but they must be endorsed by, and have the confidence of, both Houses of Parliament.Note Either house can independently oust the government through a vote of no-confidence. The Prime Minister conducts and holds responsibility for the general government policy. Paolo Gentiloni was appointed in December 2016 Prime Minister in a caretaker capacity following the defeat of the ruling coalition in the general elections on 4 March 2018; Giuseppe Conte was then designated as Prime minister and took the oath of office in June 2018.
15 Legislative power is vested in the parliament, which consists of the Chamber of Deputies, with 630 nationally elected members, and the Senate of the Republic, with 315 regionally elected members. The two houses are elected simultaneously for five-year terms by direct and universal suffrage. The parliament guides the action of the government and exercises parliamentary control over it.Note
16 The Italian Parliament is characterised by a system of “perfect bicameralism”: the two houses have equal powers and perform identical functions. The choice for a strong Senate was made to guarantee an adequate representation of conflicting regional interests, while reducing the risk of a too powerful executive or Chamber of Deputies. A peculiarity of the Senate is that some Senators (currently five) serve for life, either appointed or ex officio.Note
17 This duplication of the functions of the two houses has drawn considerable criticism, however, as it caused delays with both houses having the right to veto bills and thereby hindering the implementation of a number of much needed and wide-ranging reforms. In addition, successive governments have frequently made use of their power to adopt decrees to avoid overly lengthy debates in the two houses, which can last for up to several years,Note distorting the parliamentary law-making competence.Note The authorities however pointed out that, in the 16th Parliament, 70 % of the bills initiated by the parliament, 85% of the bills initiated by the government, and 88% of Decree-Laws (adopted in case of necessity and urgency) have been approved after a single reading in each House. Since 2015, the number of Decree-Laws issued under conditions of urgency has diminished (from 25 in 2013, to 13 from 1 January 2017 to 22 March 2018). For the authorities, this trend reversal may result from Constitutional Court judgment No. 32 of 2014,Note and from statements made by Presidents of the Republic Mr Napolitano and Mr Mattarella in 2013 and 2015 respectively on this matter.
18 Following the Second World War, Italy established a proportional electoral system. This was replaced in the early 1990s by a mixed system with different electoral arrangements for the two houses. A subsequent reform in 2005 introduced a complex system that favoured small parties and encouraged larger ones to form coalitions.Note However, it also led to different majorities in the two houses and thus hung parliaments. To guarantee a government majority in the Chamber of Deputies, a majority bonus was granted to the party or coalition that received the most votes in the national proportional elections.Note In October 2017, the Parliament adopted a new electoral law which introduced a mixed system of first-past-the-post and proportional representation in a single ballot (see below).
19 On 28 December 2017, President Mattarella dissolved the parliament and called for general elections on 4 March 2018. The centre-right coalition of Forza Italia of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi,Note LegaNote and radical right party Fratelli d’Italia narrowly won the elections, with the Five Star movement led by Luigi Di Maio, which ran alone in these elections, coming in second. However, the Five Star Movement emerged as the largest single political force in Italy. Within the centre-right coalition, Lega overtook Forza Italia as the largest party, which many commentators saw as a clear defeat for former Prime Minister Berlusconi.Note The main loser of this election was the centre-left coalition led by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi which lost two thirds of its seats in the Chamber of Deputies and half its mandates in the Senate. However, none of the parties won an outright majority, creating another hung parliament.
20 Following negotiations between the partners of the coalition, Giuseppe Conte, an academic and novice in politics, was proposed as Prime Minister on 21 May 2018. The President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella however blocked the formation of a cabinet that included Paolo Savona as Finance Minister because of Mr Savona’s Eurosceptic position. The President argued that this nomination could create uncertainty in the Italian economy and could eventually provoke Italy’s exit from the Eurozone. On 31 May 2018, an agreement was reached by the coalition partners to appoint Giovanni Tria as Minister of Economy, which led, on 1 June 2018, to the formation of the government led by Prime minister Giuseppe Conte and the appointment of the leader of the Lega, Matteo Salvini, appointed as Minister of the Interior, and the leader of the Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, appointed Minister for Labour and Economic Development, as Deputy Prime Ministers.Note
21 During the June 2018 local elections, the Lega, then in coalition with Forza Italia and Fratelli d’Italia, confirmed its popularity and won the municipal elections in strongholds of the centre-left Democratic Party in Tuscany (Siena, Pisa and Massa).Note The Five Star Movement won in Imola (Emilia-Romagna) and Avellino (Campania).

2.2 Instability of the political system

22 The consequence of the design of the Italian Republic's constitutional and electoral systems described above is the notorious instability of the political system and its institutions, which has haunted Italian politics for decades. In the 71 years since the adoption of the new Constitution, there have been 42 consecutive premierships and 64 different governments, each one lasting for a little more than a year on average. Since the general elections in 2013, there have been three different Prime Ministers.Note The country has often been portrayed as being “ungovernable”.Note
23 As a side effect of Italian bicameralism, governments often resort to confidence votes to cut short lengthy debates and to avoid parliamentary vetoes on important reforms.Note Conversely, governments have been regularly forced to resign after losing no-confidence votes in either one of the two Houses.Note While it is common that the lower House has the right to introduce no-confidence motions, only in Italy can both Houses do so. This is widely considered as a flaw of the Italian parliamentary system as it increases the risk of government instability.Note The authorities pointed out, however, that, in the history of the Republican parliaments, only two governments have resigned as a result of a parliamentary debate that began with a communication of the Prime Minister and ended with a vote of no confidence: the first Prodi government (1998) and the second Prodi government (2008).Note Moreover, Italy has a fragmented party system with regularly alternating majorities, which increases the potential for government instability.Note
24 The political system has been weakened by a number of political crises. The Italian Republic's political landscape, long dominated by Christian Democracy,Note underwent a seismic shift in the early 1990s, when the mani pulite (“clean hands”) operation exposed endemic corruption at the highest levels of politics and business, known as the so-called tangentopoli scandals. These corruption scandals implicated all the main political parties in illegal party financing and prompted a major political crisis which led to the breakdown of the system of partitocrazia.Note Subsequently, a bipolar party system between alternating centre-right and centre-left coalitions emerged. The new political system was dominated by media tycoon Berlusconi, who became mired in countless scandals, corruption allegations and a tax fraud conviction,Note which further eroded the public trust in the political elites. The authorities objected to this analysis, explaining that despite frequent changes in government, the Italian political system has proved itself to be stable: during the so-called “First Republic”, despite frequent government reshuffles or changes, the political class itself maintained a high degree of continuity, since all governments had a Christian Democratic majority. During the so-called “Second Republic”, with the exception of the 11th and 12th parliaments,Note all other governments were headed by the coalition that won the elections, usually alternating between the two main blocs.Note

2.3 Constitutional and electoral reform

25 An attempt to radically reform the Constitution, by increasing the role of the Prime Minister and reducing the powers of the Senate and the President, had been blocked in a referendum in 2006.Note Several previous initiatives to reform the Italian political system had equally failed.Note In 2012, an amendment to the Italian Constitution requiring balanced budgets entered into force, to comply with the Fiscal Compact chapter of the EU Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union.
26 Matteo Renzi, who in February 2014 became the youngest Prime Minister in Italian history, proposed several far-reaching changes to the political system. These included a major constitutional and electoral reform with the aim of ensuring greater institutional stability of the Italian political system. The Italian Constitutional Court, in December 2013, ruled the 2005 electoral law to be partly unconstitutional.Note Subsequently, in 2015, a new electoral law for the Chamber of Deputies only, was adopted by the Italian Parliament.Note The law provided for an electoral system with substantial majoritarian elements, and consisted of a first round of vote based on the proportional representation of open party lists − corrected by a majority bonus and a 3% election threshold − and a conditional second runoff vote.Note However, in January 2017, the Constitutional Court found several elements of the 2015 electoral law for the Chambers of Deputies to be unconstitutional.Note Subsequently, in October 2017, the two houses of parliament adopted a new electoral law,Note which introduced a mixed system of first-past-the-post and proportional representation in a single ballot,Note with a 3% threshold for single parties and a 10% threshold for coalitions to enter the Chamber of Deputies; a similar system was provided for the Senate. These changes to the electoral system favour the creation of large coalition governments through political bargaining but increase the risks of a hung parliament or an unstable majority. It is therefore uncertain that these changes will resolve Italy’s perennial government instability.Note
27 The main elements of the planned constitutional reform aimed to significantly curtail the powers of the Senate, to reduce its membership from 315 to 100 and to change the election of senators from a direct election system to an indirect election by representatives of the regions. Crucially, under the proposed reforms, the government would no longer have been required to obtain the confidence of the Senate, the Senate would no longer have had the power to introduce a motion of no confidence against the government and the Senate's ability to veto legislation would have been considerably reduced.Note In combination with the new electoral law, the constitutional reform would have completely transformed the nature of the Italian political system.Note Although both houses voted in favour of the constitutional reform in 2016, it did not obtain the required two-thirds majority needed to bypass a constitutional referendum.
28 On 4 December 2016, after a long and highly personalised campaign, which turned the referendum into a protest vote against the government, the proposed constitutional reform was rejected by 59% of the popular vote. Prime Minister Renzi resigned on 7 December and was replaced by his Foreign Minister, Paolo Gentiloni.

2.4 Media freedom

29 Freedom of expression and of the media are constitutionally guaranteed and generally respected. Nevertheless, in spite of a number of steps taken, Freedom House classified Italy as only partly free with a total score of 31 out of 100 with regard to press freedom in 2017.Note It is clear that several long standing issues that hamper media freedom still have to be adequately addressed.
30 Following liberalisation of the media sector in the 1990s, media ownership became highly concentrated and remains so today. Broadcast media is dominated by the two media giants: publicly owned Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI) and the privately owned Mediaset of Silvio Berlusconi. Together they operate nearly all major public and private television stations in the country. Given that up to 80% of the population is said to rely on television for its daily newsNote – which is the highest rate in the European Union – this concentration of ownership is problematic, especially in the Italian context, where broadcasters, including public broadcasters, traditionally have close ties with political forces and personalities and where conflict of interest regulations are lacking.Note The Italian authorities stressed that, in their view, these issues were tackled in the 2005 Consolidated Law on Media, Audiovisual and Radio Services (TUSMAR), which established the Integrated Communications System, set specific limitations to prevent the emergence of dominant positions in the Integrated Communications System and regulated the appointment of the members of the Communications Authority (AGCOM), who are now all university professors or senior State officials with experience in the fields of communications or competition. Law No. 215 of 20 July 2004 – also known as the “Frattini Law” – contains provisions on conflicts of interest, establishes the rules for resolving such conflicts, and ensures that all government office holders, in the exercise of their functions, have as their sole objective the upholding and protection of public interests. The Competition and Market Authority and AGCOM evaluate the presence of conflicts of interest.Note
31 Concerns about the autonomy of the RAI were raised after the appointment of Marcello FoaNote as president of the RAI in September 2018 in spite of concerns expressed by the journalists’ union. This appointment was made possible with the support of the leader of Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi, who dropped his opposition in the parliamentary body responsible for the oversight of the State broadcaster after an agreement was reached by the centre-right forces to run together in a number of upcoming regional elections.
32 Following a 2012 judgment of the European Court of Human Rights,Note Italy introduced a legislative and regulatory framework for the allocation of broadcasting licenses as well as the transfer and cessation of ownership of television broadcasting companies in order to guarantee effective media pluralism.Note However, these new rules have not substantively reduced ownership concentration since the members on the new authority are in effect political appointments based on party affiliation.Note Further efforts to reform the public broadcaster and to improve its independence, efficiency and sustainability have been introduced recently, including the changing the governance structure of the public broadcaster and by introducing a new system for collecting television licence fees. The Italian delegation pointed out that in the previous parliament, the Chamber of Deputies approved on first reading a measure introducing new rules on conflicts of interest, but the debate ran aground in the Senate. Currently, a new overhaul of this topic is included in the government contract signed by the League and the 5-Star-Movement following the 2018 elections.Note
33 Defamation remains a criminal offence in Italy, punishable by a fine or prison sentence of up to six years.Note The European Court of Human Rights has regularly ruled against Italy for imposing disproportionate criminal sanctions for defamation, including prison sentences for journalists and editors.Note In 2013, following a request by the Assembly,Note the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) adopted an Opinion on the Italian defamation legislation, which urged the authorities to amend the criminal law in order to ensure the principle of proportionality of sanctions and to avoid a chilling effect on media freedom.Note
34 Various drafts aimed at amending the defamation legislation are currently being discussed in the Italian Parliament. In 2015, the Chamber of Deputies proposed to remove prison sanctions for journalists in defamation cases,Note but in 2016 the Senate proposed to increase the maximum sentence from six to nine years imprisonment for defamation cases concerning politicians, judges and public servants. Following strong international criticism, including by the Commissioner for Human Rights, this proposal was later removed.Note The draft bill is currently stuck in the Senate. As a result, at the time of writing, the Italian legislation concerning defamation is not in line with European standards.Note
35 As a result, Italian Courts continue to issue prison sentences for defamation. According to the organisation Ossigeno per l'Informazione, 475 journalists were convicted for defamation in 2015, with 155 prison sentences issued.Note In practice, prison sentences are usually suspended or not applied. However, as pointed out by the Commissioner for Human Rights, the continuing criminalisation of defamation and the willingness of public figures to use this to stifle criticism hampers media freedom in Italy.Note
36 Italian journalists regularly face intimidation, threats (including death threats) and physical attacks from organised crime networks. Reportedly, in 2016, 62 journalists received verbal or written threats, 57 were physically attacked and four had their equipment damaged. As a consequence, 20 journalists currently live under continuous police protection.Note In a welcome development, in 2016 the Italian Parliament approved a proposal by the parliamentary Anti-Mafia Commission to introduce new aggravating circumstances in the Criminal Code for Mafia offences against journalists.Note

2.5 Local self-government

37 Italy is a unitary country with territorial decentralisation. The country is subdivided into 20 regions. The regions are divided into 96 provinces and 14 metropolitan cities, which in turn are subdivided into over 8 000 municipalities. Local autonomy is firmly established. The Italian Constitution recognises the principle of local self-government and requires the establishment of a statute for every region, which determines its organisation and functioning. Fifteen regions with “ordinary” status have only very limited autonomy, while the five regions with special “autonomous” status have greater legislative, administrative and financial competences.Note There have been accusations that regions with special “autonomous” status have been more vulnerable to corruption and infiltration by organised crime. In the 2001 constitutional reforms, regions with ordinary status acquired increased competences in tax and education policies and in a set of areas expressly set out in the Constitution, but two major reform attempts were rejected by the 2006 and 2016 constitutional referendums.Note
38 The historic economic and cultural divisions between Italy's regions run deep, as is evident from the existence of numerous regionalist and regional political parties. While secessionist claims seem no longer to be on the political agenda, regional identities remain strongNote and regular demands in favour of more regional autonomy are frequently voiced by regional leaders and political parties.Note As a result of these tendencies, national consensus on future reforms of the system of local and regional democracy is lacking.
39 In its third monitoring report on Italy of October 2017, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe welcomed the reforms to foster decentralisation and to enhance the political and financial efficiency of local governance.Note It also expressed a number of concerns, including with regard to the budget cuts and reduced State support as a result of austerity policies which have had a disproportionate impact on local authorities. The Congress urged the Italian authorities to reconsider budget cuts and lift financial constraints imposed on local authorities in order to ensure that they have sufficient financial and human resources to carry out their legal duties. It recommended greater fiscal autonomy of the regions with ordinary status to reduce the gap between them and regions with special autonomous status, and invited the Italian authorities to sign and ratify the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority (CETS No. 207).Note

3 Human Rights

3.1 General human rights issues

40 Italy is strongly committed to protecting and promoting human rights around the world through bilateral and multilateral initiatives, both at the global and at the regional level.Note The country has a strong legislative framework for the protection of human rights and has established several bodies for the protection of human rightsNote to which it has provided considerable financial and human resourcesNote That said, Italy is one of the few Council of Europe member States that still have no independent national human rights institution despite the repeated pledges to establish one issued by the Italian authorities.Note I was therefore pleased to learn that the Chamber of Deputies was about to begin, in November 2018, the examination of several bills aimed at establishing a National Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Fundamental Human Rights, which should be in line with the Paris Principles. Italy also does not have a national Ombudsperson institution.Note While it has adopted a number of specific thematic Strategies and Action Plans it has not yet adopted a global and comprehensive human rights action plan.
41 In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights has dealt with 2 106 applications concerning Italy, of which 1 973 applications were declared inadmissible or were struck out.Note It delivered 31 judgments (concerning 133 applications), 28 of which found at least one violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Most violations concerned the right to respect for private and family life (seven judgments), the lack of effective investigation (six judgments), the right to a fair trial (six judgments), and the protection of property (six judgments).Note Noteworthy judgments in recent years concerned the issues of right to life; torture and inhuman or degrading treatment by State officials (including one pilot judgment related to prison overcrowding); impunity for extraordinary renditions; lawfulness of detention; fair trial rights (including one pilot judgment); private and family life (including protection of embryos and children born from a gestational surrogacy arrangement, and legal recognition of same-sex relationships) and lack of access to the asylum procedure and collective expulsion of aliens.
42 As at 31 December 2017, a total of 4 665 applications concerning Italy (8.3%) were pending before the European Court of Human Rights; the country thus remains within the “top five”, despite the very positive trend in recent years.Note According to the Court, around 4 400 cases concern delays in payment of the “Pinto” compensation for lengthy proceedings (see also below); other cases relate to the special high-security prison regime, imprisonment for defamation, and detention of unaccompanied minors.Note
43 Italy has made significant progress in terms of judgments pending execution before the Committee of Ministers. Having long been the country with the highest number of cases pending execution (i.e. 2 350 cases or more than one fifth of the total number of pending cases at the end of 2016), over 1 700 cases concerning excessive length of civil and bankruptcy proceedings were closed by final resolution in December 2017.Note By the end of December 2017, only 380 cases were pending execution, 250 of which were imposed under the enhanced procedure, highlighting the continued existence of structural deficiencies that remain to be addressed by the authorities.Note The amount of compensation paid by Italy topped the 15 million euro mark in 2016, making the country the third Council of Europe member State in this category; payments are, however, often delayed.Note

3.2 Prevention of torture and other forms of ill-treatment

44 In 2015, the Court highlighted the inadequate criminal legislation to prevent and punish torture and other ill-treatment as well as the application of a statute of limitations for such crimes, which had resulted in a de facto climate of impunity.Note In July 2017, after considerable delay, Italy introduced the crime of torture into the Italian Criminal Code, filling an important gap in its human rights protection system.Note Despite this positive development, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), in its 2016 visit report, heavily criticised the draft bill, which was similar to the finally adopted text, for its overly narrow definition of torture, as a result of which many acts of serious ill-treatment may fall outside the scope of the law. Moreover, the law does not consider an act of torture inflicted by a public official as an autonomous offence but rather as an aggravating factor and the offence is subject to a statute of limitations.Note The CPT therefore considered that the law does not adequately address the issues raised by the Court.Note This is all the more important, as ill-treatment by law-enforcement and prison staff remains a persistent problem in ItalyNote for which it has been repeatedly condemned by the Court.Note
45 The CPT also examined the impact of the prison reformNote undertaken by the Italian authorities to reduce prison overcrowding, as required by the 2013 pilot judgment by the Court in Torregiani v. Italy.Note Significant progress was noted with a decrease of the prison population of 11 000 inmates by 2016, while the prison capacity was increased by 2 500 places. This progress allowed the Committee of Ministers to close this group of cases. However, it should be noted that the prison population has again increased since 2016 and prison overcrowding continues to be a problem.Note
46 In its 2016 visit report the CPT also expressed concern about the deficient material conditions at a number of State police and Carabinieri establishments. Regarding prisons, the CPT denounced a poor regime, extensive restrictions imposed on inmates subjected to the “41-bis” regime,Note prolonged isolation and solitary confinement, and detention conditions of mothers with children.
47 In a welcome development, following Italy's ratification of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture (OPCAT) in 2013, the authorities created a new institution to perform the task of National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) under OPCAT. This National Guarantor of the rights of persons deprived of their liberty (Garante nazionale),Note which had started operating in early 2016, is a mechanism to monitor the situation of persons deprived of their liberty.Note

3.3 Rights of refugees and migrants

48 Sea crossings from North Africa (mostly from Libya) to Italy via the central Mediterranean route surged from 56 000 in 2011, to an unprecedented level of more than 181 000 new arrivals in 2016. Refugees and migrants often used unseaworthy vessels, without life vests and sufficient fuel and food, making this route the deadliest in the world with over 4 500 deaths at sea in 2016.Note According to data published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), there were 2 172 victims in 2017. Almost one thousand migrants and refugees died in the Mediterranean in the first semester 2018; 653 of them died along the central Mediterranean route between north Africa and Italy.Note
49 The Italian authorities reacted by increasing their search and rescue capacities and by establishing a National Plan for the reception of refugees and migrants.Note As a result of current EU asylum rules and pressure from other EU member States to stop onward movements, Italy was required to absorb an ever increasing number of arrivals. The Assembly has repeatedly stressed that all Council of Europe member States and the European Union should show more solidarityNote with Italy and other European front-line countries faced with large-scale migratory arrivals underscoring that only a common European response can address the present refugee and migratory inflow.Note
50 While arrivals remained high in the first seven months of 2017 (about 100 000 people), they have significantly decreased since. In 2017, the number of new arrivals fell significantly with a total of 119 000 sea arrivals recorded in 2017.Note This is the result of Italy significantly downsizing search and rescue operations undertaken by non-governmental organisationsNote and stepping up bilateral co-operation on migration control with its former colony Libya, measures which were endorsed by EU member States,Note despite public outcry on and claims of European complicity in exposing migrants to systematic human rights abuses in Libya.Note The Commissioner for Human Rights urged Italy to clarify its maritime operations in Libyan territorial waters aimed at managing migration flows.Note The Italian delegation indicated that migrants’ rescue operations at sea on the part of NGOs were subsequently regulated by a Code of Conduct issued by the Italian Ministry of the Interior in agreement with the European Union, and signed by all NGOs, except Médecins Sans Frontières and the German network Jugend Rettet. The code introduces several principles aiming to improve security, loosening the ban on transfers to other vessels and calling for NGOs not to enter Libyan territorial waters “except in situations of grave and imminent danger requiring immediate assistance” and provided they do not obstruct “Search and Rescue on the part of the Libyan Coast Guard”.Note
51 In recent months, the Minister of the interior has toughened his migration policy. The authorities have banned rescue vessels from disembarking in Italian ports unless deals can be reached with other European countries. In July 2018, only the intervention of the Italian President Sergio Mattarella enabled the Italian coastguard ship Diciotti to disembark 67 migrants in Trapani.Note On 25 August 2018, however, the Diciotti was prevented from disembarking 177 rescued migrants for several days until an agreement was reached with Ireland, Albania and the Italian Catholic Church to accept migrants.Note Following this event, the prosecutors opened an investigation against the Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini and his chief of staff Matteo Piantedosi for illegal detention, abuse of office and “kidnapping in order to coerce”. All charges were subsequently dropped.Note The authorities have also hampered, if not rendered impossible, the work of NGOs rescuing migrants:Note the registration of the Aquarius vessel – operated by SOS Mediterranée and Médecins Sans Frontières and which reportedly rescued 30 000 peopleNote – was revoked on 24 September 2018 by Panama following pressure brought to bear by the Italian Government. A number of Italian municipalities, including the City of Riace in Calabria, have launched integration policy to accommodate newly arrived migrants and refugees. In October 2018, however, the Mayor of Riace, Domenico Lucano, was prosecuted for allegedly encouraging illegal immigration “through unlawful acts punishable under criminal law, including the organisation of fake weddings”Note and placed under house arrest. Hundreds of refugees were also ordered by the Ministry of the Interior to be moved out of Riace to other reception facilities. These are extremely worrying developments.Note
52 Despite Italy's efforts and goodwill in addressing the immense challenges, large-scale arrivals of refugees and migrants have overwhelmed the country's reception system. While the hotspot approachNote has allowed for the proper registration and identification of most arrivals, the number of places to host them is insufficient compared to the needs.Note The lack of harmonised standards and rules, combined with the inadequate monitoring of private operators and fuelled by incentives for corruption in the context of procurement,Note have resulted in substantially diverging living conditions from one place to another, in some cases creating living conditions at variance with Articles 3 and 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.Note
53 The situation was further exacerbated by delays in accessing the asylum procedure and the slow pace of these proceedings, particularly at the level of appeals.Note The authorities informed the committee that the Decree-Law No. 113 adopted in 2018 (see below) aimed to speed up the processing times for international protection applications by introducing a series of changes to existing legislation and increase the number of commissions in charge of examining applications.Note In early 2017, a substantial reform of the asylum procedure considerably reduced the processing times of asylum applications but at the cost of reducing procedural safeguards for asylum seekers.Note In respect of these procedures, the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) noted that they did not guarantee the effective identification of vulnerable persons, such as trafficking or torture victims.Note There are similar gaps in the protection of unaccompanied migrant children. Their high number has led to the partial breakdown of the reception and guardianship system.Note GRETA urged the Italian authorities to increase efforts to identify child victims of trafficking and address the problem of disappearance of unaccompanied children by providing enhanced safeguards and by swiftly assigning a legal guardian.Note The authorities also indicated that a new legislation passed in 2017 aimed to strengthen protection measures for unaccompanied children, assure their uniform application nationwide, increase the resources allocated to reception facilities specifically for minors and give access for all unaccompanied minors to services funded via the National Fund for Asylum Policies and Services.Note That being said, further efforts are still required, in particular increasing the number of places in specialised shelters.
54 As regards possible forced returns, summary identification procedures and gaps in providing adequate information on rights entail a certain risk of refoulement of persons in need of international protection, especially as returns of persons to countries with which Italy has concluded readmission agreements can be carried out swiftly.Note Concerns have been expressed, including by the Commissioner for Human Rights, that persons crossing from Egypt, Tunisia or Greece are routinely sent back under these agreements without proper screening and procedural safeguards, despite indications that some came with the intention to seek asylum.Note Following the Court’s landmark judgment in the case Hirsi Jamaa in 2012,Note Italy declared that the so-called “push-back” policyNote of refugees and migrants intercepted in international waters is no longer being pursued.Note Recent changes in the migrant reception system and the asylum procedure (including during rescue at sea) as well as in the domestic jurisprudence are positive developments.Note
55 The system of forced return of irregular migrants and failed asylum seekers to countries with which Italy has not concluded readmission agreements has been pointed out as being “a total failure”,Note notably due to the lack of co-operation on behalf of these countries. Irregular migrants generally lack support and reception services, which are provided only to asylum seekers and refugees who are enrolled in the reception system. The authorities however stressed that upon their irregular entry into Italy, migrants receive first aid assistance in so-called hotspots, have access to emergency hospital and outpatient care in public accredited facilities, and have access to preventive medicine programmes to safeguard individual and collective health. Finally, the judgments issued by the Constitutional Court have highlighted that public interventions concerning foreign citizens cannot be limited to mere controls over their entry and stay on Italian soil, but must necessarily include other aspects – such as social assistance, education, health care and housing – that involve multiple legislative spheres.Note While the criminal offence of irregular stay was abolished in 2014,Note increasing numbers of migrants find themselves in transit living in informal settlements and in inadequate conditions, or even being homeless.Note Both the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and the Commissioner for Human Rights regretted the lack of integration policies for this group, and called on the authorities to remedy this situation.Note The launch in September 2017 of the first National Integration Plan, which includes objectives with regard to language learning, housing, employment and health care, is a positive step in this respect.Note
56 Migrants and refugees are particularly vulnerable to forced labour, exploitation and abusive working conditions, due to their precarious situation and discrimination in the labour marketNote and the legal framework to protect them from this is inadequate. Undeclared work among migrants continues to be a common feature of the Italian labour market, especially in the south and in the agricultural sector. In this respect, GRETA urged the Italian authorities to strengthen their action to combat trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation, including by reinforcing labour inspections.Note The adoption of the 2016 Law 199 containing provisions to “counter the phenomena of undeclared employment, of exploitative labour in agriculture and the realignment of wages in the agricultural sector”, which stiffens penalties for those who commit such offences, is to be welcomed.Note
57 New legislation was recently adopted concerning migrants and refugees. Decree-Law No. 113 on “security and migration” was signed by President Mattarella on 4 October 2018Note and adopted by parliament on 28 November 2018. This decree-law introduces restrictions to the Italian asylum system and abolishes the status of humanitarian protection.Note The authorities explained that residence permits issued for humanitarian reasons will be replaced with “special” residence permits issued only in cases of exceptionally serious health conditions, temporary situations of disaster in the country of origin, or acts of high civil value. It also includes a series of measures aimed at speeding up the processing of asylum applications, such as fast-track procedures for asylum seekers being subject to criminal proceedings or convicted of a serious crime, and the possibility of drafting a list of safe countries of origin. Some measures have been adopted in order to fight illegal immigration, including lengthening the maximum period of detention for foreign citizens housed in Repatriation Centres and extending the ban on re-entry for foreigners who have been expelled to the entire Schengen area. The decree also includes revocation of citizenship (acquired through marriage or naturalisation or else granted to foreign citizens born in Italy and residing there until 18 years of age) in case of definitive conviction for crimes of terrorism or subversion. Civil society organisations and NGOs have expressed their serious concerns about this new decree-law and claimed that it is incompatible with constitutional principles and international law.Note The rapporteur expects the Italian authorities to ensure that this new legislation and its implementation complies with international standards.

3.4 Fight against racism, intolerance and discrimination

58 The Italian Constitution guarantees the equality of all citizens (Article 3). As regards the institutional framework for combating racism and intolerance, both the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCPNM) and ECRI are of the view that the mandate and status of the National Office against Racial Discrimination (UNAR), which was established in 2013 and which is responsible for the protection against all forms of discrimination, do not guarantee its independence and should be reviewed. Moreover, they consider that the necessary resources needed for it to operate effectively are lacking and must be made available.Note In a positive development, an Observatory for Protection against Discriminatory Acts (OSCAD) has been created and Italy adopted in 2015 an Action Plan against racism, xenophobia and intolerance, which was developed by UNAR after a broad consultation process.
59 Italian society has seen an increase in racist attitudes, xenophobia and anti-Gypsyism in public discourse, notably in the media and on the internet. Between September 2010 and November 2014, OSCAD received almost 1 200 reports of hate speech and hate-related offences, half of which constituted criminal offences.Note The economic crisis and austerity, and, as the Italian delegation pointed out, the overwhelming number of asylum seekers Italy had to face and provide for, have further fuelled discontent; certain political parties have capitalised on anti-immigrant sentiments. The Commissioner for Human Rights, ECRI and the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention have voiced concerns with regard to hate speech by politicians, which targeted migrants, Roma, Muslims, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.Note The European Committee of Social Rights found that the use of xenophobic political rhetoric or discourse against Roma and Sinti amounted to a violation of the provisions of the European Social Charter (revised) (ETS No. 163).Note Moreover, despite ECRI's recommendation to make Holocaust denial a separate criminal offence, legislation adopted in July 2016 made this offence only an aggravating circumstance.Note
60 According to the OSCE/ODIHR, a total of 803 hate crime offences were recorded by the police in 2016, comprising 286 racist and xenophobic offences, 204 against people with disabilities, 52 against Roma and Sinti, and 38 based on the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity. A number of verbal and violent physical attacks against centres for asylum seekers have been recorded. There are still no official statistics on prosecutions and convictions of authors of hate crimes, but their number is reported to be small compared to the high number of hate crimes and violence reported.Note The 2015 Action Plan proposed concrete measures to combat hate speech and racist, homophobic and transphobic violence, in line with ECRI's recommendations, but these measures now need to be implemented in practice. The Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention strongly urged the Italian authorities to effectively combat all manifestations of racism, intolerance and xenophobia, particularly by preventing, investigating and prosecuting all racially motivated offences.Note The newly elected United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, announced on 10 September 2018 that her office would assess the “reported sharp increase in acts of violence and racism against migrants, persons of African descent and Roma”.NoteNote
61 The situation of the Roma population, which includes Roma, Sinti and Travellers (Caminanti), remains topical. Until 2011, the Italian authorities declared a “state of emergency in relation to nomad settlements”Note in several regions, which allowed for the systematic forced eviction and resettlement of Roma in large-scale “authorised” and segregated camps. This policy and all related administrative acts were subsequently declared unlawful and discriminatory by the Council of State.Note Prejudice and stigmatisation against Roma remain deep-rooted and widespread; 85% of the Italian population hold unfavourable views on Roma.Note Roma continue to face marginalisation and social exclusion as well as poverty and extreme hardship. Discrimination in access to education, health care, housing and employment still constitute structural barriers preventing their full participation in society. According to a 2014 survey, 97% of Roma households lived below the poverty threshold, 69% of young Roma were excluded from employment and education, and 66% felt discriminated against when looking for employment.Note It is also estimated that the average life expectancy of Roma is ten years below that of the general population and the infant mortality rate for Roma children is at least twice as high as the national average.Note
62 Since 2012, Italy has undertaken a noteworthy policy shift aimed at the social inclusion of Roma,Note which was formalised by the National Roma Integration Strategy (2012-2020) with focus on four priorities: work, housing, health and education.Note Regrettably, this strategy has still not achieved any significant progress towards its stated goals, notably due to delays in its implementation and the lack of quantifiable targets and dedicated funding.
63 A complex and unresolved issue is the legal status of an estimated 15 000 Roma from the countries of the former Yugoslavia and their children born in Italy. Due to the lack of personal identity documents, they face problems in accessing employment, housing, education or health care, and are not allowed to register the birth of their children, thus becoming de facto stateless.Note Draft legislation, which would allow migrant children born in Italy to acquire Italian citizenship, under certain conditions, remains stalled before the Senate.Note
64 Parts of public opinion are still hostile towards LGBTI people. LGTBI people face discrimination, including in access to employment, as well as being subjected to violence. The Italian Government adopted a National LGBT Strategy in 2013. Following a 2015 judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, in which the Court found that Italy was breaching the Convention because it was impossible for same-sex couples to have their relationship acknowledged by law,Note the Italian authorities adopted, in May 2016, a specific legislative framework allowing for the recognition and protection, in the form of a civil union, of same-sex partnerships.Note This development should be welcomed. It should also be noted that, despite the lack of specific legislation, the possibility of adopting the child of one’s partner, including same-sex partners (so-called “stepchild adoption”), has been recognised on numerous occasions by courts, and most recently by the Court of Cassation.Note

4 Rule of law

4.1 Independence of the judiciary and administration of justice

65 Italy spends 1.3% of total public expenditure on its judicial system.Note While this may seem low, the budget for the judicial system per inhabitant is higher than the Council of Europe average. Between 2012 and 2014, the budget for the judicial system decreased by 3.4%, mostly due to budget cuts related to the courtsNote resulting from a structural re-organisation and concentration of its judicial system. In this re-organisation, 31 first instance courts and 667 offices of justice of the peaceNote were abolished, in an effort to enhance efficiency.Note This change did not entail a reduction in the number of judges and staff but their concentration into a restricted number of large courts. This concentration was accompanied by a stronger specialisation of the court system.
66 The Italian judiciary is governed by a solid legislative framework and enjoys special constitutional protection, which guarantees its autonomy and independence from all other branches of power.Note The judiciary is headed by the High Council of the Judiciary, a self-governing body composed predominantly of magistrates elected by their colleagues.Note Together with the local judicial councils, it plays a central role in governing the judiciary and protects it from outside influence.Note
67 The Minister of Justice, who is formally responsible for the organisation and functioning of the judiciary, in practice only plays a limited role in decisions concerning the status of prosecutors and judges, who both belong to the same professional order of magistrates.Note While he can initiate disciplinary action, the High Council of the Judiciary is the only body competent to decide on appointments, transfers, promotions, salaries and discipline.Note Once appointed, on the basis of a competitive examination, magistrates have security of tenure and serve for life. Magistrates receive attractive salaries (particularly at the end of their career), and pensions and retirement bonuses that are by far the highest in Italy's public service.Note Any influence or instructions from outside bodies on judges, while performing their duties, is prohibited.
68 In Italy, salaries and promotions of magistrates depend on seniority of service, which includes the performance of non-judicial functions in the public sector. This has greatly facilitated the temporary employment of magistrates in extra-judicial and political activities.Note Magistrates regularly stand for national, local and European elections or assume positions of responsibility in a national or local administration or government. Due to the lack of clear conflict of interest policies for extra-judicial activities, a number of magistrates temporarily serve within the executive or legislative branches, cultivating relations with political parties or party leaders, before returning to their judicial functions at the end of their political careers.Note Legal loopholes also allow, for example, a magistrate to perform political activities at the local level while continuing to carry out judicial functions, with the only limit being that of territorial ineligibility.Note This undermines the public perception of, and ultimately their trust in, the judiciary, and as a result the very independence and impartiality of the judiciary is at stake. GRECO therefore recommended that the simultaneous exercise of judicial and local government functions be restricted in law and that the issue of political activity of magistrates be reviewed by the legislator.Note The High Council of the Judiciary has adopted criteria to prevent members of the judiciary who have previously stood for election, even if unelected, from returning to exercise their functions in the district where they ran for office, which is welcome, as is the call made by the Minister of Justice to the Justice Committee of the Chamber of Deputies on 11 July 2018 to “move past the revolving-door mechanism between politics and the judiciary, between Parliament and the halls of justice”.Note
69 One of Italy's main challenges remains the structural problem of delayed (and therefore often denied) justice. This problem is compounded by the excessive use and length of pretrial detention. The Italian judicial system has persistently been criticised, including by the Commissioner for Human Rights, for its slow-paced judicial processes and inefficient performance of its courts and prosecutors' offices.Note Although the Italian Constitution guarantees the principle of reasonable length of proceedings (Article 111), the significant workload of the courts of all instances has resulted in excessively long proceedings and procedural delays. Italy is among the Council of Europe member States with the highest number of condemnations by the European Court of Human Rights in cases regarding delayed justice. Since 2001, national law provides for a legal remedy to enforce the right to a speedy trial, by claiming fair compensation from the State (the so-called “Pinto” Law).Note
70 The Italian delegation provided additional information on the efforts undertaken to achieve speedier and more effective trials, such as the recruitment of over 5 000 staff members over three years and digitalisation of civil and criminal proceedings, which led to the reduction of the duration of first instance trials, as highlighted by European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ).Note Appeal procedures remain problematic, even though the Court of Cassation, in spite of a significant backlog of civil cases, has managed, to reduce the length of procedures for criminal proceedings. Within a few years, the number of pending appeals against Italy has fallen from over 17 000 in October 2014 to 4 665 as at 31 December 2017. The implementation of major action plans involving hundreds of cases is also expected to have an additional positive impact on reducing backlog, according to the authorities.Note
71 That notwithstanding, and despite a slight decrease in incoming cases in recent years, the country has difficulty in coping with its excessive backlog of cases. In 2016, a total of more than 3.8 million civil and over 1.5 million criminal cases were pending before the Italian courts.Note In 2015, the average duration of proceedings before a first instance court was 427 days in civil cases and 389 days in criminal cases. Before second instance courts, the average length of proceedings was 819 days and before the Court of Cassation 1 427 days.Note In 60% of all Italian courts, one in five cases has been pending for more than three years, thus exceeding the “reasonable time” envisaged by the “Pinto” Law.Note The Italian authorities stressed that the number of proceedings “at risk based on the Pinto Law” diminished between 2013 and 2018.Note
72 A serious consequence of the substantive delays is that, over the past ten years, an estimated 1.5 million cases, including corruption cases, were terminated before the trials could be concluded, as a result of the time limits specified in the statutes of limitation. Over 132 000 criminal proceedings became time-barred in 2014 alone.Note From 2015 to 2017, the number of time-barred criminal proceedings was respectively 130 208, 136 888 and 125 624, and amounted to 63 177 in the first semester of 2018.Note This has contributed to a further increase in public mistrust of the judiciary and the administration of justice. In addition, the excessive length of proceedings and judicial uncertainty affect the business environment. According to the President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, the cost of Italy's slow judicial system accounts for over 1% of its GDP.Note
73 The underlying reasons for this problem are diverse and include the excessive case-load of courts, complex procedures, problems relating to court management and organisation, judicial culture, and the shortage of material and human resources.Note In particular, Italy has one of the lowest numbers of judges per capita in Europe and in 2016 there were almost 1 100 vacancies for posts of magistrates to be filled. Two decades of inertia in terms of human resources have led to an increased reliance on lay judges and a significant decrease in the number of clerical staff. It is of critical importance for the independence and efficiency of the judiciary that sufficient financial and human resources be allocated.Note The Italian delegation explained that, in recent years, efforts have been undertaken to ensure the recruitment of new magistrates in annual budget laws.Note
74 In recent years, Italy has adopted a number of legislative reforms, including a major civil procedure reform in 2014 and a reform of the Criminal and the Criminal Procedure Codes in June 2017, aimed at rationalising and decreasing the length of civil and criminal proceedings. These reforms provided for the introduction of mandatory mediation and a “filter” system for appeals in civil cases, the increased use of summary proceedings and alternative, non-judicial dispute resolution mechanisms. The reorganisation of the Italian judicial system, accompanied by further specialisation, as well as the appointment of auxiliary judges and the recruitment of over 3 000 administrative positions in courts has led to increased efficiency. Recent criminal justice reforms have, inter alia, extended the statute of limitationsNote and amended the appeals system before courts of appeal and the Court of Cassation.Note With respect to the fight against corruption, GRECO welcomed the efforts made by the authorities to address the problem of the statute of limitations – seen as the “Achilles’ heel of justice in Italy” – with key changes made in relation to corruption offences, notably by increasing limitation periods and by providing for additional grounds for suspension of the statute of limitations.Note
75 As mentioned, excessive length of detention on remand in the context of trial delays are of concern. Italy is among the European countries with the highest number of people in pretrial detention.Note Although pretrial detention cannot be applied for crimes that can be punished with a maximum sentence of less than five years, the maximum length of pretrial detention allowed by law is two to six years, depending on the severity of the alleged crime.Note The European Court of Human Rights has issued numerous judgments against Italy finding violations with regard to the excessive length of pretrial detention and insufficient safeguards of the defendant's fair trial rights, but also for arbitrary imprisonment in pretrial detention.Note The Italian authorities have adopted legislative amendments that limit the offences for which pretrial detention can be requested and introduced alternative measures, but this has not yet led to a marked reduction in the use of pretrial detention.Note In particular, alternative measures are underused and Italian law does also not require a regular review of pretrial detention.Note The news that recourse to pretrial detention is diminishing is welcome.Note Meanwhile, alternative measures were also used more often by judges; in September 2018, the number of these measures had increased by 4 000 compared to 2017.Note The authorities are urged to further address these points.  

4.2 Fight against corruption, money laundering and organised crime

76 Regrettably, corruption in Italy remains a pervasive phenomenon that is deeply rooted and that affects society as a whole, including public administration and the private sector.Note In 2015, 3 000 cases of corruption were reported, 177 persons were arrested for corruption charges and another 700 investigated. Police have reported irregularities with respect to almost 30% of audited public contracts.Note According to a 2017 Eurobarometer survey, 89% of Italians consider corruption to be widespread and 87% believe that public institutions are infiltrated by corruption.Note Italy ranks 8th out of 27 European countries in terms of “direct or indirect experience of episodes of corruption in the last twelve months”.Note Corruption, patronage and nepotism were also identified, in 2017, as a very serious obstacle when engaging in business in Italy.Note In 2018, Transparency International noted some progress following the recent adoption of four relevant laws on whistle-blowing, transparency, undue influence and anti-money laundering, and ranked Italy 54th (compared to 60th in 2017) out of 176 countries in perceived levels of public corruption.Note As mentioned in the 2018 Eurobarometer on corruption, political parties (66%) and local, regional and national elected representatives (60%) were perceived by the public as being the most corrupt groups (compared to, respectively, 89% and 77% in 2013).Note The cost of corruption in Italy has been estimated by the Court of Auditors at around 60 billion euros annually or 4% of the country's GDP.Note
77 In recent years, Italy has introduced a number of anti-corruption measures and, in 2013, it ratified the relevant Council of Europe conventions on corruption. The adoption of an anti-corruption package in 2012, updated in 2015, marked a shift from a punitive to a preventive approach. In particular, a new National Anti-Corruption Authority (ANAC) was created and a national Anti-Corruption Plan adopted.Note In addition, major anti-corruption legislative reforms were enacted.Note The so-called “Whistle-blowing Law” (Law No. 179) adopted in 2017 introduces wide-ranging measures to protect public or private employees who report to the relevant authorities unlawful conduct or abuses which they have witnessed on the basis of their employment relationship.Note
78 In 2013, GRECO concluded that Italy had implemented satisfactorily or dealt in a satisfactory manner with 17 of the 22 recommendations contained in the joint first and second round evaluation report.Note However, the country has still to satisfactorily implement eight of the 16 recommendations made in the third round evaluation report. GRECO noted that criminal penalties for corruption by officials are adequate and usually effectively implemented in practice. The authorities were invited to adopt the legislation required for the country to withdraw – or not renew – its reservations to the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS No. 173).Note As regards political party financing, GRECO noted the significant progress achieved,Note including with regard to transparency of donations, but underscored that more efforts are required concerning the monitoring of party and campaign financing.Note In June 2018, GRECO confirmed that the new legal framework – that abolished, in 2017, direct public funding in favour of a voluntary system of private funding – presented several positive features, concluded that Italy had partially implemented another seven recommendations and invited the authorities to make more efforts to enhance transparency and oversight (such as the publication of campaign finances) to further prevent corruption.Note
79 In its fourth round evaluation report on Italy, which deals with the prevention of corruption in respect of members of parliament, judges and prosecutors, GRECO commended the decisive steps taken to tackle corruption and acknowledged the proactive role of the Anti-Corruption Authority. In respect of members of parliament, it recommended strengthening the integrity framework and urged the country to overhaul the current system on conflicts of interest, including by consolidating the regulatory framework and by establishing more efficient mechanisms of control and accountability.Note While welcoming the recent adoption of a Code of Conduct and Rules on Lobbying by the Chamber of Deputies, GRECO recommended that these rules be further developed in order to ensure full compliance with GRECO provisions. A similar development is still outstanding in the Senate. As underscored repeatedly by GRECO in its reports on Italy, “combating corruption must become a matter of culture and not only rules”, requiring a long-term approach, continuing education throughout all sectors of society, as well as a sustained political commitment and a zero-tolerance approach to corrupt behaviours.Note In a recent report, GRECO regretted the lack of progress regarding the criminalisation of active and passive bribery of foreign arbitrators and jurors and the “outstanding legislative gaps in the criminalisation of trading in influence”. Regrettably, there was no tangible progress regarding the process of ratification of the Additional Protocol to the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS No. 191).Note
80 A new bill (also known as the “sweep corruption away” bill sponsored by the Five Star Movement) was approved by the Council of Ministers on 6 September 2018 and submitted to the parliament. According to this bill, anyone convicted of corruption and sentenced to more than two years in prison would never be able to hold public office or seek a State contract again. It would also allow, for the first time, undercover agents to work on corruption investigations and require full transparency on private and corporate contributions to political parties and foundations. The strengthening of anti-corruption measures and policies is to be welcomed, and will have to be in line with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights on these issues.
81 Italy is not a member of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), but it joined the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 1990. The latest mutual evaluation report, adopted in February 2016, noted Italy’s well developed legal and institutional framework to fight money laundering and terrorist financing. At the same time, it noted a number of areas where improvements are required, such as with regard to investigation and prosecution of standalone money-laundering cases and the misuse of legal persons.Note
82 A particular feature of the Italian situation is the intertwinement of corruption, money laundering and mafia-type organised crime. Organised crime and criminal organisations have been present in Italy for more than two centuries. They are heavily concentrated in four regions of southern Italy, namely Sicily, Calabria, Campania and Apulia, where they have infiltrated politics, the economy and society. The Mafia is primarily involved in drug trafficking − which remains the principal transnational activity and the main source of income − but has expanded into assassinations, and trafficking of weapons, and waste/toxic waste and in human beings, cigarette smuggling, counterfeiting, racketeering and extortions, falsifying public tenders and loan sharking.Note To conceal their criminal activities, Italian organised crime groups have set up well developed money-laundering and high-level corruption networks. According to the Minister of Justice, annual Mafia proceeds account for between 18 and 34 billion euros or at least 1.7% of the GDP.Note
83 Organised crime has a tight grip on Italian politics, particularly at the local level, influencing the allocation of public resources and tax collection. These groups control large amounts of votes in their areas of influence, which could determine the outcome of local elections. As a result, many law-enforcement officials, judges and prosecutors reportedly have collaborated with Mafia-type organisations.Note
84 Since the Maxi-Trial in 1986-1987, during which a number of Mafia bosses were sentenced to long prison sentences,Note and after a series of assassinations of major political and institutional figures,Note public opinion started revolting against the Mafia phenomenon. The Italian authorities began to evolve a strategy for combating organised crime and passed strong anti-Mafia legislation in the early 1990s.Note In 2008, the authorities reformed the work of the parliamentary Anti-Mafia Commission which was tasked with investigating “the Mafia phenomenon” and other criminal organisations.Note Anti-Mafia District Prosecution Offices, which have special jurisdiction with respect to serious organised crime and terrorism-related offences, are co-ordinated by the anti-Mafia National Directorate. Recently, co-operation at European and international level to counter transnational organised crime groups has been reinforced. Following the most recent amendments which entered into force in November 2017, the Anti-Mafia Code now extends to the confiscation of assets.Note

5 Conclusions and recommendations

85 While Italy, a founding member of the Council of Europe, is generally honouring its membership obligations to the Council of Europe, a number of concerns exist. The political landscape remains characterised by a fragmented party system and political instability. Both parliamentary chambers are able to initiate no-confidence votes. The December 2017 referendum, which aimed at reforming the political system and making it more efficient and stable, failed. A decade-long, severe economic crisis and increased mistrust in political and judicial institutions have contributed to boosting the popularity of, notably, a far-right party (the Lega) and an anti-establishment party (the Five Star Movement). In June 2018, these ideologically different political parties joined forces to form a governmental coalition following political bargaining and institutional tensions with the President of the Republic.
86 Concerning the functioning of democratic institutions at local and regional level, the rapporteur calls for the implementation of the 2017 recommendations of the Congress of local and regional authorities, in particular the reconsideration of budget cuts, the lifting of financial constraints imposed on local authorities, and greater fiscal autonomy for the regions with ordinary status in order to reduce the gap between them and regions with special autonomous status. The Italian authorities are also invited to sign and ratify the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority.
87 Concerning migration inflow management, the rapporteur reiterates the Assembly’s position calling on all member States to show solidarity to address the large-scale arrivals of refugees and migrants in Europe, which has disproportionally affected Italy. In this context, the rapporteur welcomes the shortening of delays in accessing the asylum procedure achieved in 2017. The efforts made to put an end to the so-called “push-back” policy – resulting in forced return of irregular migrants and failed asylum seekers – are to be welcomed, as is the adoption of a National Integration Plan launched in 2017. The Italian authorities are encouraged to implement integration policies for those migrants in transit, and to strengthen their action to combat trafficking in human beings for the purpose of labour exploitation, in line with the recommendations made by GRETA. The fate of child victims of trafficking and the disappearance of unaccompanied children deserves due attention.
88 The rapporteur also notes that the new government has vowed to implement harsher migration policies. The rapporteur is deeply worried by the stance taken by the newly elected authorities to criminalise local authorities implementing integration policies for migrants; to hamper the work of NGOs rescuing migrants; and to ban disembarkation of migrants rescued at sea in Italian ports, which put the lives of people at jeopardy and violates basic humanitarian standards. While the international community as a whole is expected to provide a common response to the migration inflow, the rapporteur urges the Italian lawmakers to ensure that legislation on migrants and refugees complies with Italy’s European and international obligations and guarantees the respect of fundamental freedoms.
89 The rapporteur expects the Italian authorities to remain strongly committed to the protection and the promotion of human rights. The rapporteur notes that Italy has a well-developed legal framework for that purpose. A number of important treaties still await ratification. While acknowledging the transposition, in 1999, of the principles of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in the legal system, the rapporteur continues to encourage Italy to ratify the Charter. The Italian authorities are also encouraged to take the necessary steps to ratify Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Convention on Nationality. The rapporteur welcomes the recent introduction of a parliamentary bill on the ratification of Protocols Nos. 15 and 16 to the European Convention on Human Rights and invites the parliament to ratify them at its earliest convenience.
90 The ratification of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture (OPCAT) in 2013 and the creation of a National Preventive Mechanism institution (Garante nazionale) are to the credit of the Italian authorities. The rapporteur welcomes the steps taken by the parliament to establish a National Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Fundamental Human Rights which should act as Italy’s independent National Human Rights Institution in line with the Paris Principles. While the introduction of torture as a separate offence in the Criminal Code is to be welcomed, the overly narrow definition of torture fails however to address all concerns raised by the CPT and the European Court of Human Rights. The criminal legislation remains inadequate to prevent and punish torture and other ill-treatment. That and the statute of limitations result in a de facto climate of impunity for such crimes. The rapporteur notes the significant progress made in terms of judgments pending execution before the Committee of Ministers and encourages the Italian authorities to pursue their efforts to reduce the number of applications lodged with the European Court of Human Rights.
91 The rapporteur remains very concerned about the increase in racist attitudes, xenophobia and anti-Gypsyism in public discourse, notably in the media and on the internet and rising hate speech by politicians, as highlighted by the Commissioner for Human Rights, ECRI and the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. It calls on the authorities to strengthen the independence of the National Office against Racial Discrimination, and to effectively combat all manifestations of racism, intolerance and xenophobia, particularly by preventing, investigating and prosecuting all racially motivated offences.
92 The rapporteur also calls on the Italian authorities to pay due attention to the situation of Roma people who are subject to prejudice and stigmatisation. This is particularly true for an estimated 15 000 undocumented Roma people from former Yugoslavia who face problems in accessing housing, education and health care; they are unable to register their children who are therefore, de facto, stateless. This situation should be addressed by adequate legislation.
93 In the field of media, the rapporteur welcomes the efforts undertaken in relation to the allocation of broadcasting licenses and the reform of the public broadcaster with a view to improving its independence, efficiency and sustainability. It notes however that, despite the introduction of new regulations, media ownership concentration remains an issue in Italy. Regrettably, defamation is still a criminal offence, with prison sentences being handed down. This has a chilling effect on media freedom. The rapporteur urges the Italian authorities to amend the criminal law in order to ensure the principle of proportionality of sanctions, in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission.
94 Concerning the rule of law, the Italian judiciary is governed by a solid legislative framework and enjoys special constitutional protection. The rapporteur welcomes recent criminal justice reforms which have, inter alia, extended the statute of limitations, including in corruption cases, and amended the appeals system. He calls on the Italian authorities to further address the issues of excessive use of pretrial detention, underuse of alternative measures, delayed justice and court cases backlogs.
95 Corruption remains a pervasive and deeply rooted phenomenon. The rapporteur acknowledges the efforts undertaken by the Italian authorities to combat corruption. The creation of the National Anti-Corruption Authorities, the adoption of a National Anti-Corruption plan and the adoption of the 2017 Whistleblowing Law are to be welcomed, as well as the significant progress achieved in the framework governing political party funding. The new system of party and election campaign funding, which will rely on private donations, requires however due transparency and oversight to prevent corruption, through an efficient mechanism of control of accountability. In this respect, the rapporteur welcomes the adoption of a Code of Conduct and Rules on Lobbying by the Chamber of Deputies, which need to be upgraded to comply with the recommendations of GRECO; it expects the Senate to take similar steps.
96 The rapporteur welcomes the measures envisaged by the Italian authorities to strengthen the fight against corruption, which will need to comply with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. He also encourages the Italian authorities to implement the remaining GRECO recommendations, consider lifting the reservation made in 2013 to the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and consider ratifying its Additional Protocol.
97 Finally, the rapporteur is concerned about the persistent intertwinement of corruption, money laundering and mafia-type organised crime, especially in southern Italy, and by the tight grip of organised crime on Italian politics, particularly at the local level. These are issues that need continuous attention by the authorities. Clarifying the notion of conflict of interests for magistrates exercising extra-judicial activities, in line with the GRECO recommendations, could also help to strengthen the trust of people in the judiciary in that respect.

Appendix

1. Council of Europe conventions signed and/or ratified by Italy between 1 October 2013 and 3 December 2018

No.

Title

071

European Convention on the Repatriation of Minors

 

Signature: 04/02/1971

Ratification: 27/02/1995

Entry into Force: 28/07/2015

143

European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (Revised)

 

Signature: 16/01/1992

Ratification: 30/06/2015

Entry into Force: 31/12/2015

173

Criminal Law Convention on Corruption

 

Signature: 27/01/1999

Ratification: 13/06/2013

Entry into Force: 01/10/2013

174

Civil Law Convention on Corruption

 

Signature: 04/11/1999

Ratification: 13/06/2013

Entry into Force: 01/10/2013

190

Protocol amending the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism

 

Signature: 15/05/2003

Ratification: 21/02/2017

 

196

Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism

 

Signature: 08/06/2005

Ratification: 21/02/2017

Entry into Force: 01/06/2017

198

Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism

 

Signature: 08/06/2005

Ratification: 21/02/2017

Entry into Force: 01/06/2017

210

Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence

 

Signature: 27/09/2012

Ratification: 10/09/2013

Entry into Force: 01/08/2014

214

Protocol No. 16 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

 

Signature: 02/10/2013

   

215

Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions

 

Signature: 07/04/2016

   

216

Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs

 

Signature: 25/03/2015

   

217

Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism

 

Signature: 22/10/2015

Ratification: 21/02/2017

Entry into Force: 01/07/2017

218

Council of Europe Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events

 

Signature: 02/09/2016

   

219

Protocol amending the European Landscape Convention

 

 

Ratification: 01/08/2018

 

220

Council of Europe Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production (revised)

 

Signature: 30/01/2017

   

221

Council of Europe Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property

 

Signature: 24/10/2017

   

222

Protocol amending the Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons

 

Signature: 20/02/2018

   

2. Recent findings of Council of Europe monitoring mechanisms and other bodies as at 3 December 2018

European Court of Human Rights

European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 005) ratified in 1955

Protocol No. 1 (ETS No. 009) ratified in 1955

Protocol No. 2 (ETS No. 044) ratified in 1967

Protocol No. 6 (ETS No. 114) ratified in 1988

Protocol No. 12 (ETS No. 177) signed in 2000

Protocol No. 13 (ETS No. 187) ratified in 2009

Protocol No. 14 (CETS No. 194) ratified in 2006

Out of a total of 56,250 applications pending before a judicial formation on 31 December 2017, 4,665 concerned Italy.

Resolutions adopted by the Committee of Ministers: 4 in 2013, 5 in 2014, 3 in 2015, 16 in 2016, 17 in 2017 and 9 in 2018.

See Press country profile Italy

Congress of Local and Regional Authorities

European Charter on Local Self-Government (ETS No. 122) ratified in 1990

Report and Recommendation on local and regional democracy in Italy adopted in October 2017: CG33(2017)17final and Recommendation 404 (2017)

Group of States against Corruption (GRECO)

Civil Law Convention on Corruption (ETS No. 174) ratified in 2013

Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS No. 173) ratified in 2013, Additional Protocol (ETS No. 191) signed in 2003 but not ratified

Third evaluation round: compliance report on Italy: “Incriminations (ETS 173 and 191, GPC 2)”, “Transparency of party funding”, adopted by GRECO at its 64th plenary meeting, Strasbourg, 16-20 June 2014, published in June 2014, GrecoRC-III(2014)9E

Third evaluation round: second compliance report on Italy: “Incriminations (ETS 173 and 191, GPC 2)”, “Transparency of party funding”, adopted by GRECO at its 74th plenary meeting, Strasbourg, 28 November – 2 December 2016, published in December 2016, GrecoRC3(2016)13

Third evaluation round: addendum to the second compliance report on Italy: “Incriminations (ETS 173 and 191, GPC 2)”, “Transparency of party funding”, adopted by GRECO at its 80th plenary meeting, Strasbourg,18-22 June 2018, published in June 2018, GrecoRC3(2018)8

Fourth evaluation round: corruption prevention in respect of members of parliament, judges and prosecutors: evaluation report: Italy, adopted by GRECO at its 73rd plenary meeting, Strasbourg, 17-21 October 2016, published in January 2017, GrecoEval4Rep(2016)2

Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL)

Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime of 1990 (ETS No. 141) ratified in 1994

Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism (revised) (CETS No. 198) ratified in 2017

Italy is not a member of MONEYVAL

Commissioner for Human Rights

Report by Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, following his visit to Italy from 3 to 6 July 2012, CommDH(2012)26

Letter from the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, to Mr Ignazio Marino, Mayor of Rome, on the right to housing of Roma and Sinti and integration of beneficiaries of international protection (12 November 2013) and response of the Municipal Counsellor for Social Affairs of the City of Rome (4 December 2013, in Italian only)

Letter to the Prime Minister of Italy (26 January 2016) and reply from the Italian authorities (10 February 2016)

Letter to the President of the Italian Senate (9 May 2017)

Letter addressed to the Italian Parliament (16 June 2017)

Commissioner's letter addressed to the Minister of Interior of Italy (28 September 2017) and reply of the Minister of Interior of Italy (12 October 2017)

European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)

Convention (ETS No. 126) ratified in 1988, Protocols No. 1 (ETS No. 151) and No. 2 (ETS No. 152) ratified in 1999

Ad hoc visit in June 2010, reports in November 2013, CPT/Inf(2013)30[Part 1] and CPT/Inf(2013)30[Part 2]

Periodic visit in May 2012, report in November 2013, CPT/Inf(2013)32

Ad hoc visit in December 2015, report in December 2016, CPT/Inf(2016)33

Periodic visit in April 2016, report in September 2017, CPT/Inf(2017)23

Ad hoc visit in June 2017, report in April 2018, CPT/Inf(2018)13

Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) and Committee of the Parties

Convention (CETS No. 197) ratified in 2010

1st Evaluation Round:

. GRETA's Report and Government’s Comments published in September 2014, GRETA(2014)18

. Recommendation CP(2014)16 of the Committee of the Parties adopted in December 2014

. Government's Reply to GRETA's Questionnaire published in January 2014, GRETA(2014)2

. Government’s Reply to the Committee of the Parties’ Recommendation received in December 2016, CP(2017)7

Urgent Procedure:

. GRETA's Report and Government’s Comments published in January 2017, GRETA(2016)29

2nd Evaluation Round:

. Government's Reply to GRETA's Questionnaire published in November 2017, GRETA(2017)33 and Annexe

Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) and Committee of the Parties

Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (CETS No. 210) ratified in 2013

1st (baseline) Evaluation:

. State report received in October 2018, GREVIO/Inf(2018)14

European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Conclusions on Italy adopted in December 2014, published in February 2015, CRI(2015)4

5th report on Italy adopted in March 2016, published in June 2016, CRI(2016)19

Venice Commission

Opinion on the Legislation on Defamation in Italy, adopted by the Venice Commission at its 97th Plenary Session, Venice, 6-7 December 2013, CDL-AD(2013)038

Opinion on the Citizens’ bill on the regulation of public participation, citizens’ bills, referendums and popular initiatives and amendments to the Provincial Electoral Law of the Autonomous Province of Trento (Italy), adopted by the Venice Commission at its 103rd Plenary Session, Venice, 19-20 June 2015, CDL-AD(2015)009

Amicus curiae brief for the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Berlusconi v. Italy, adopted by the Venice Commission at its 112th Plenary Session (Venice, 6-7 October 2017), CDL-AD(2017)025

3. Other Treaties

Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

Convention (ETS No. 157) ratified in 1997

4th Cycle:

. 4th State Report received in March 2014, ACFC/SR/IV(2014)005.

. Advisory Committee delegation visit in June-July 2015

. Opinion adopted in November 2015, published in July 2016, ACFC/OP/IV(2015)006

. Government comments received in July 2016, GVT/COM/IV(2016)002

. Resolution adopted in July 2017, CM/ResCMN(2017)4

European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

Convention (ETS No. 148) signed in 2000 but not ratified

European Social Charter

European Social Charter of 1961 (ETS No. 35) ratified in 1965

Additional Protocol to the European Social Charter Providing for a System of Collective Complaints (ETS No. 158) ratified in 1997

European Social Charter (revised) (ETS No. 163) ratified in 1999

See Country factsheet Italy

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