ITALY – COUNTRY REPORT
Summary of necessary legal reform to achieve full prohibition Settings where explicit prohibition is necessary
Home, ?schools, ?penal institutions, ?alternative care settings
Is there a legal defence for corporal punishment which must be repealed? Yes – The law confirms a right to correction (“jus corrigenda”). A 1996 Supreme Court ruling states that this cannot be used to defend the use of corporal punishment but this has not been confirmed in legislation. The near universal social acceptance of corporal punishment in childrearing necessitates clarity in law that no level of corporal punishment is acceptable. The “right to correction” should be explicitly repealed and prohibition enacted of all corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment, in the home and all other settings where adults have parental authority.
Other legislative measures necessary
Schools – The law should explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in all schools public and private. Penal institutions – The law should explicitly prohibit corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure in all institutions accommodating children in conflict with the law. Alternative care settings – Explicit prohibition should be enacted in law of corporal punishment in all alternative care settings, including public and private day care, residential institutions, foster care, etc.
DETAILED COUNTRY REPORT
Legality of corporal punishment
Home In 1996, a Supreme Court judgment outlawed all violence in childrearing (Judge Ippolito, Supreme Court of Cassation, 18 March 1996). Article 571 of the Criminal Code (1975) states: “Whoever misuses means of correction or discipline to harm a person subject to his authority, or entrusted to him for purposes of education, instruction, treatment, supervision or custody … shall be punished.” The offence of abuse of correctional methods is applicable if there is a relationship of authority between the abuser and the abused, if the abuse results in physical or mental injury, and if it involves legitimate correctional methods. Since, according to the 1996 ruling, corporal punishment is no longer a legitimate method of discipline, it is not defensible under the right to correction (“jus corrigenda”). However, there has been no law reform to confirm the judgment in legislation by amending/repealing article 571 or enacting explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in the home, though a number of Bills have been proposed over the years. In 2008, three members of parliament signed the Council of Europe’s petition against all corporal punishment of children. But during the Universal Periodic Review of Italy in 2010, the Government stated that since corporal punishment is unlawful by virtue of the Supreme Court judgment, there is no need to prohibit it through law reform (A/HRC/14/4/Add.1, Report of the Working Group: Addendum). Following a complaint against Italy brought in 2003 by the World Organisation Against Torture under the Collective Complaints procedure of the European Social Charter, the European Committee of Social Rights concluded by 11 votes to 2 that there was no violation of Article 17 of the Revised Charter because the prohibition of all forms of corporal punishment of children has a legislative basis (Resolution ResChS(2005)1, Collective complaint No. 19/2003 by the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) against Italy, adopted by the Council of Ministers on 20 April 2005). Since the decision, the Committee has confirmed that compliance with article 17 of the Charter requires explicit prohibition in domestic law (see “Recommendations by human rights treaty bodies”, below). Schools Corporal punishment has been unlawful in schools since 1928, but we have yet to identify prohibiting legislation. In secondary schools, the Decree of the President of the Republic of 29 May 1998 states that no student shall be subject to disciplinary sanctions without having been first invited...
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