Back Italy should improve legislation and practice on migration and asylum, women’s rights and gender equality

Country visit report

In a report published today, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, recommends adopting a number of measures to better uphold the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and women. The Commissioner also raises certain issues concerning journalists and the legal protection of LGBTI people.

Stressing the need for a shared European responsibility to save lives at sea and recognising Italy’s efforts in this area, the Commissioner urges the Italian authorities to ensure adequate search and rescue capacity and calls for the repeal of legislation and policies that hamper NGO search and rescue operations.

Cooperation activities that directly or indirectly lead to returns to Libya should be suspended, in view of the grave and systematic human rights violations taking place there. Cooperation with other countries, in particular Tunisia, should be conditional on comprehensive human rights safeguards, and no returns should take place without a proper individual assessment.  The Commissioner also warns of the lack of adequate human rights safeguards in the Memorandum of Understanding concluded with Albania and recommends that the Italian authorities prioritise improving the domestic asylum and reception systems.

While welcoming Italy’s progress in promoting gender equality and combating violence against women, the Commissioner notes a marked contrast between the legal framework and the inequalities, discrimination and violence faced by women and girls. To close this gap, she recommends that the authorities reduce regional disparities, combat sexism and gender stereotypes and improve support services for victims of gender-based violence.

The Commissioner calls for stronger enforcement of anti-discrimination laws and greater efforts to improve women’s socio-economic situation.  She also urges the authorities to ensure women’s and girls’ unhindered access to sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion care and contraception, and stresses the need to respect and uphold women’s rights, dignity and autonomy in maternal health care.

Criminal law should also be amended to base sexual violence offences, including rape, on the notion of freely given consent. In addition, the Commissioner calls for increased efforts to prevent gender-based violence and for more training of judicial and law enforcement personnel to improve their treatment of women victims of gender-based violence and prevent secondary victimisation.

Finally, the Commissioner recommends the decriminalisation of defamation, the establishment of a national human rights institution and the broadening of legislation against discrimination, hate crime and hate speech to cover the rights of LGBTI people.

The report is based on the Commissioner's visit to Italy from 19 to 23 June. More information on the Commissioner's work on Italy can be found on this page.

Strasbourg 14/12/2023
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