Children’s rights: Di Stefano in Geneva, “effective promotion and protection is priority in Italy’s agenda”

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GENEVA, JANUARY 22 – Italy’s Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Manlio Di Stefano, took part at Palais Wilson in Geneva to the presentation of Italy’s report on the implementation of the Convention on the Child’s Rights. “Effective promotion and protection of childrens’ rights – said the Undersecretary of State – “is a priority of our political agenda both at the national and the international level”.

Di Stefano focused in particular on the actions undertaken by the Italy to promote and protect children’s rights.  The Law N°97/2018 had put the Ministry for Family and Disability in charge of national governance in matters of childhood and adolescence, while the 2017 law on accompanied and unaccompanied migrant children provided for their access to information, legal assistance, identification and protection, and the promotion of family reunification in Italy and other European countries.  The Extraordinary Plan of Action against sexual and gender violence, the national plan to prevent and counter child abuse and exploitation 2015-2017, and an emergency helpline for children were measures in place, with proper financial resources, while in May 2017 Italy had included the bullying component in the definition of violence against children and adolescents.  On the fight against child poverty, Mr. De Stefano highlighted the Basic Income for Inclusion, while further benefits for families and children would be introduced with the 2019 Budget Law.

Profound change, Mr. De Stefano said, had taken place in the national policies for the promotion and protection of the rights of children and adolescents over the last three or four years.  Italy had been managing the serious inflow of migrants seeking asylum or better economic conditions, but since migration was not temporary in nature, a multi-level and strategic approach to managing migratory flows and addressing their root causes was essential.  The Special Unit for the Reception of Foreign Unaccompanied Minors, set up in 2014, currently hosted 2,158 unaccompanied minors, while new and comprehensive legislation on accompanied and unaccompanied minors, adopted in 2017, provided for their access to information, legal assistance, cultural mediation, identification and protection, and the promotion of family reunification in Italy and other European countries. Di Stefano also referred to measures adopted to fight poverty, citing income inclusion and emphasizing the “further benefits for families and minors” when the system established by the stability law 2018 “and the so-called income of citizenship” will be implemented.

The 18 members of the Committee recognized the important efforts made by Italy. Renate Winter, Committee Chairperson, concluded by commending Italy for its system which guaranteed the rights of children to visit their parents in prison, noting that this was a best practice that the Committee was recommending to other States parties. The Committee raised issues such as the declining vaccination rates, and the drop in the number of mothers who breastfed their children, and expressed concern about children’s mental health, since there was a great increase in the number of children diagnosed with specific learning disorders – some 250,000 children had been put into this group due to difficulties in reading, speaking, learning, or simply for poor performance at school. The conclusions of the Committee will be announced next month. All 196 countries that have ratified the Convention on child rights are required to undergo periodical revisions.

The delegation of Italy consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, Ministry of Education, University and Research, Ministry of Health, Istituto degli Innocenti – Florence, and the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations Office at Geneva. (@OnuItalia)