U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Italy
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Italy, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa4c10.html [accessed 23 April 2014]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
ITALYItaly is a longstanding, multiparty parliamentary democracy. Executive authority is vested in the Council of Ministers, headed by the President of the Council (the Prime Minister). The Head of State (the President of the Republic) nominates the Prime Minister after consulting with leaders of all political forces in Parliament. Parliament was elected in free and democratic elections in April 1996. The judiciary is independent, but critics complain that some judges are politicized. The armed forces are under the control of the government and Parliament. Four separate police forces report to different ministerial or local authorities. Under exceptional circumstances, the government may call on the army to provide security. The army supports the police in general guard duties in the region of Sicily and in the province of Naples, both areas with high levels of organized crime, thus freeing the police for investigative and related activities. There were a number of credible reports that some members of the security forces committed abuses. Italy has an advanced, industrialized market economy, and the standard of living is high. Small and midsized companies employ some 70 to 80 percent of the work force. Major products include machinery, textiles, apparel, transportation equipment, and food and agricultural products. The government owns a substantial number of enterprises in finance, communications, industry, transportation, and services, but privatization is moving forward at a measured pace. The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens. The law and the judiciary generally provide effective means of dealing with instances of individual abuse. However, there were problems in some areas. There continued to be reports of police abuse of detainees. Prisons are overcrowded, and the pace of justice remains slow. Societal discrimination against women, abuse of children, and discrimination and sporadic violence against immigrants and other foreigners are problems. The Government is taking steps to combat violence against women. There were some reports of child labor in the underground economy.