ITALY: National Laws

Summary: General overview of Italy's national legal provisions on children's rights, including guidance on how to conduct further research.

National laws on children's rights

Status of the CRC in national law
Article 10 of the Italian Constitution states that "[t]he Italian legal system conforms to the generally recognised principles of international law." In operation, this provision gives precedence to ratified treaties, including the CRC, over national law, and Italian courts can and do cite the CRC where relevant.

Constitution: Part I of the Italian Constitution grants civil, social, economic, and political rights to all citizens, including children, and also contains a number of provisions that make specific reference to the rights of the child:

  • Article 3 places full responsibility on the State "to remove those obstacles of an economic or social nature which constrain the freedom and equality of citizens, thereby impeding the full development of the human person."
  • Article 30 establishes the responsibility of parents and of the State to support, raise and educate children.
  • Article 31 orders that the State assist in the formation of families through economic and other benefits, and places a duty on the State to protect mothers and children by adopting necessary provisions.
  • Article 37 states that "working conditions must allow women to fulfil their essential role in the family and ensure appropriate protection for mother and child." It goes on to refer to the minimum age for paid labour established by law, and mandates that working children be protected by special provisions and guaranteed equal pay for equal work.

Legislation: There is no comprehensive children's act in Italian legislation; rather, provisions relevant to children's rights are found throughout various laws. Relevant legislation includes, but is by no means limited to:

  • Law 977/1967, 'Protection of children and adolescent child workers'
  • Law 176/1991, 'Ratification and execution of the CRC'
  • Law 451/1997, 'Institution of a Parliamentary Commission for Children and a National Observatory for Children'.
  • Law 285/97, 'Provisions for the promotion of rights and and opportunities for children and adolescents'.
  • Law 38/2006 concerning the fight against the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography and via the internet
  • Law 269 / 98, 'Norms against the exploitation of minors for prostitution, pornography and sexual tourism'.
  • Law 54/2006 on provisions on the separation of parents and shared custody of children
  • Law 40/1998, 'Regulation of Immigration and norms on the condition of migrants'
  • Law 476/1998, 'Ratification and execution of the Convention on the Protection of Minors and cooperation in international adoption (Aja, 1993)'
  • Law 148/2000, 'Ratification and execution of Convention No.182 relative to the prohibition of the worst forms of child labour and to the immediate action for abolition'.
  • Law 2/2001, 'Abrogation of article 3 of Law 191/1975 on the enrolment of minors in military service'.
  • Act No. 62/2011 on the protection of the relationship between mothers in prison and their minor children
  • Law on the establishment of a National Ombudsperson for Childhood and Adolescence, July 2011.

Legal Research:
The Italian Parliament (Parlamento) maintains an official website in Italian (, and the Senate (Senato) maintains a specific website in Italian where it publishes pending and enacted national legislation (, including links to the Official Gazette ( and the Constitution in both Italian ( and English ( The Ministry of Finance also hosts a searchable database of Italian laws in Italian (, as does the legal information portal Stuido Cataldi ( In addition, the GlobaLex initiative at New York University has published a guide to legal research in Italy (, and both the U.S. Law Library of Congress ( and World Legal Information Institute ( offer a selection of relevant government and legal research links.

Case law
CRC Jurisprudence
Please contact CRIN if you are aware of any cases in national courts that reference the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Case Law Research
The Italian Constitutional Court maintains an official website available in five languages offering all judgements published since 1956 ( Links to the websites of the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, and Tribunals are available through the World Law Guide (

Compliance with the CRC
In its 2011 Concluding Observations, the Committee on the Rights of the Child welcomed a number of new laws designed to protect children's rights, but also noted that the impact of these laws could not yet be assessed and raised concerns over the country's failure to follow-up on its previous recommendations. The Committee urged Italy to take all measures necessary to address these recommendations, particularly in the areas of coordination, allocation of resources, systematic training on the Convention, non-discrimination, the best interests of the child, the right to an identity, adoption, juvenile justice, and refugee and asylum-seeking children.

In depth analysis:
The Committee on the Rights of the Child welcomed a number of reforms to national law, particularly with respect to children separated from parents in custody and in the creation of the National Ombudsperson for children, but nevertheless raised a number of concerns. In particular, the Committee highlighted the situation of unaccompanied and other migrant children, and expressed concern at the absence of a legislative framework on political asylum. The Committee also raised concerns that people who enter the country without documentation are criminalised, and that this has resulted in children being deprived of access to health care, education and social care. Relevant recommendations focussed on reforming laws to ensure compatibility with the Convention, specifically in guaranteeing that persons under the age of 18 are not expelled from Italy where there are "substantial grounds for believing that there is a real risk of irreparable harm to the child".

In its 2011 Observations, the Committee also raised a number of concerns with regards to the Italian juvenile justice system. Of particular concern was the excessive use of detention for children, the prolonged use of pre-trial detention, and reports that migrant children have been detained in correctional institutions because they lack documents. These concerns led the Committee to recommend that the State expedite the adoption of the Draft Bill on Juvenile Justice, and adopt an independent monitoring mechanism to conduct regular visits to places where children are deprived of their liberty.

The Committee has also raised the issue of violence against children in a variety of contexts, specifically with respect to the absence of an explicit prohibition on corporal punishment in all settings and the absence of a nation-wide framework for the protection of children from all forms of physical and mental violence. The Committee recommended that the State introduce legislation to explicitly ban violence against children in all settings, including a prohibition that makes specific reference to corporal punishment.

Current legal reform projects
As of 2011, the Department of Juvenile Justice had prepared a Draft Bill on the Juvenile Justice system, which, if approved, would expand the availability of alternatives to detention and other traditional forms of sentencing.


Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.