The case for an NHRI in Italy presented before Italian law-makers

Dr Katrien Meuwissen speaking via Skype at the Italian Chamber of Deputies in Rome / 31.01.2019

Italy remains to be one of two EU states and 9 Council of Europe states without a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), and ENNHRI is working on that to change. Last week, ENNHRI’s Senior Human Rights Officer, Dr Katrien Meuwissen, presented at the Italian Chamber of Deputies that there is a compelling argument for the establishment of an Italian NHRI.

At an event organised by the Centro Studi di Politica Internazionale, Dr Meuwissen spoke over Skype to representatives of government and civil society, including a number of Italian senators and house members, about the reasons why the establishment of an NHRI in Italy in compliance with the Paris Principles is important and how such an institution would differ from other existing national mechanisms in Italy.

Firstly, NHRIs work on a full range of human rights and policy areas within the complete geographic area of the state’s jurisdiction. They have a broad mandate to both promote and protect human rights. As a result, unlike specialised institutions or local institutions that already exist, an Italian NHRI could provide a complete overview of the national human rights situation, including civil and political rights, as well as economic and social rights.

Moreover, an Italian NHRI would not only undertake protective actions in response to human rights violations, but would also prevent human rights harm from being done, including through providing advice to policy and law-makers and by further building a culture of human rights in Italy.

An Italian NHRI would collect an accurate overview of the human rights situation in-country through cooperation with NGOs, academic institutions and other civil society actors. It would also connect the national and international arena by applying international human rights standards and delivering information to regional and international human rights bodies.

NHRIs are the only national bodies that are periodically reviewed for their independence and effectiveness in compliance with the Paris Principles, enhancing their legitimacy and credibility at home and abroad. For over a decade, the Italian government has been criticised by civil society organisations as well as regional and international human rights bodies for the lack of an NHRI in the country that would present an official and independent human rights access point at the national level.

The interactive debate in the Italian Chamber of Deputies further highlighted the need for independence of the future Italian NHRI, as well as its effectiveness. The importance for the NHRI to complement the work of existing actors, such as the Italian judiciary and the National Preventive Mechanism under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, was also mentioned.

ENNHRI will further support the establishment of an Italian NHRI in compliance with the Paris Principles, and also highlighted to the Italian Chamber of Deputies that it can provide technical feedback on draft laws and good practice examples from across its wide membership.

» Learn more about the Paris Principles and the process of NHRI accreditation