Italy needs to speed up court proceedings and improve the treatment of Roma and migrants

Strasbourg, 18/9/2012 - "Lengthy proceedings and the treatment of Roma and migrants in Italy raise serious human rights concerns" said today Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, releasing a report based on the findings of his visit to Italy carried out on 3-6 July.

"It is high time that durable solutions be found to the excessive length of court proceedings, which is a long-standing human rights problem in Italy, generating the highest number of so-called repetitive cases lodged before the European Court of Human Rights." The Commissioner stressed that no solution to this problem is likely to work "unless it benefits from the full collaboration of all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Justice, the High Council of the Judiciary, as well as judges, prosecutors and lawyers".

Judicial inefficiency is estimated to reduce Italy's yearly GDP by 1%. "In times of economic crisis, this figure should be an incentive to find solutions to reverse the situation. Active case management by judges has proved remarkably effective in the First Instance Court of Turin, where the backlog of cases was reduced by 26.6% in 5 years. It is a cost-effective measure which should be transposed to other parts of Italy."

The Commissioner welcomes the adoption of Italy's first national strategy for the inclusion of Roma and Sinti. "It must now yield concrete actions. The policies of segregated camps and forced evictions should be once and for all discontinued. There is also a continuing need to work against anti-Gypsyism, which remains rampant in political discourse and in the media. Regrettably, some measures taken recently, such as the severe downsizing of UNAR, the anti-discrimination office entrusted with a co-ordinating role under the strategy, may thwart the chances to achieve Roma inclusion and fight against discrimination."

The Commissioner welcomes the authorities' commitment to no longer pursue the policy of "push-back" of migrants to Libya, which constitutes a human rights violation. "The announced renegotiation of the bilateral agreement with Libya must include appropriate guarantees to prevent human rights violations resulting from possible interceptions and expulsions. Attention should also be paid to avoiding similar violations when applying other agreements, such as the readmission agreements with Egypt and Tunisia, and when returning migrants to Greece."

The Commissioner lastly stresses that the near absence of an integration framework for refugees and other beneficiaries of international protection clashes with Italy's human rights obligations. "The shocking situation of the estimated 800 recognised refugees and beneficiaries of international protection who occupy the so-called "Palace of Shame" in Rome exposes the fate of deprivation that refugees often face in Italy."

The comments of the Italian authorities are available here.