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Italy: Leadership Needed on Rights

Joining UN Human Rights Council Comes With Obligation to Address Abuses at Home

(New York, June 16, 2011) - Italy should take concrete steps to improve its human rights record and carry out the pledges it made as a new member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Foreign Minister Franco Frattini released today. Italy will take up its seat on the UN body on June 19, 2011.

"Italy's credibility at the UN Human Rights Council depends on its record at home," said Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. "The Italian government needs to live up to the human rights promises it has made."

Human Rights Watch urged the Italian government to improve its response to racism and xenophobia and to ensure better protection against discrimination for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. It also called on Italy to intensify rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea and ensure continued access to asylum procedures for those fleeing violence and persecution in Libya and elsewhere.

Italy should also affirm its commitment to the global ban on torture by including torture as crime in its criminal code, ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, and repudiating practices that put people at risk of torture upon deportation, Human Rights Watch said.

To demonstrate its commitment to human rights, the Italian government should follow through on the pledges it submitted ahead of the May 20 Human Rights Council elections, Human Rights Watch said.

This includes timely implementation of recommendations made during the first round of Italy's Universal Periodic Review before the Human Rights Council, in February 2010. Particular attention should be given to addressing discrimination and racism, improving the situation of Roma and Sinti minority populations, and the long-delayed creation of an independent entity to monitor human rights practices.  

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