The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Italy

By Vexen Crabtree 2019

#equality #eu #freedom #human_rights #Italy #politics #tolerance

Italy
Italian Republic

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index22nd best
CapitalRome
Land Area 294 140km21
LocationEurope, The Mediterranean
Population60.6m2
Life Expectancy83.34yrs (2017)3
GNI$33 573 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesIT, ITA, 3805
Internet Domain.it6
CurrencyEuro (EUR)7
Telephone+398

Italy performs very well in ensuring human rights and freedom compared to most other countries. Italy comes in the best 20 in terms of commentary in Human Rights Watch reports9, its nominal commitment to Human Rights10 and in opposing gender inequality11. And finally, it does better than average in its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice12, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms13, speed of uptake of HR treaties14, LGBT equality15 and in supporting press freedom16 (but bad for Europe). In 2017, "parliament adopted a law finally making torture a crime, but with a definition and statute of limitations that do not meet international standards"17. The United Nations made specific recommendations in 2017 that Italy creates "stronger measures against gender-based violence [and stronger] anti-trafficking mechanisms"17.


1. Italy's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)18,19
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank18,19
1Denmark9.7
2Sweden10.0
3Norway16.1
...
16Uruguay26.2
17France28.1
18Belgium28.6
19Italy32.1
20Taiwan35.0
21Czechia35.5
22Poland35.8
23Ireland35.8
24Costa Rica36.0
World Avg89.8
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Denmark, Sweden and Norway18. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are Tuvalu, The Solomon Islands and Palestine18.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice and LGBT equality. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe18, whereas the worst are Micronesia, Melanesia and Australasia18.

2. Human Rights & Tolerance Data Sets

The EU has acted on behalf of its member states on many occasions to support, foster, fund and encourage human rights protections in every region of the world, with agreement of its member states through the European Parliament. The protections of workers' rights and their harmonisations (which stops companies moving staff to countries with the weakest laws) has had great effect in stopping workforce abuse20. According to Human Rights Watch's comprehensive review for the year 2017, in addition to vocal and public pronouncements on poor human rights records of many countries, the EU has also acted through economic sanctions, political pressure and used other means to incentivize the adoption of human rights protections, even if these measures harm EU trading21. It is to Italy's credit that it supports the EU in these actions.

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)9
Pos.Higher is better
Score9
1UK9
2France9
3Germany9
...
18Bulgaria5
19Spain5
20Malta5
21Italy5
22Slovenia5
23Austria5
24Slovakia5
25Latvia5
World Avg-1.9
q=123.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)10
Pos.Higher is better
Treaties10
1Argentina24
2Chile23
3Costa Rica23
...
11Serbia23
12Sweden23
13Uruguay23
14Italy22
15Denmark22
16Croatia22
17Belgium22
18Austria22
World Avg15.1
q=194.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag (2019)14
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty14
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
...
34Poland6.34
35Cape Verde6.40
36Venezuela6.51
37Italy6.56
38Russia6.58
39UK6.62
40Portugal6.69
41Bolivia6.70
World Avg10.02
q=195.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)13
Pos.Lower is better
Rank13
1Hong Kong1
2Switzerland2
3New Zealand3
...
25Iceland25
26Taiwan26
27Slovakia27
28Italy28
29Chile29
30Romania30
31France31
32Japan32
World Avg79.7
q=159.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)22

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom (2013)16
Pos.Lower is better16
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
...
53Argentina2567
54Moldova2601
55Hungary2609
56Italy2611
57Hong Kong2616
58Senegal2619
59Chile2624
60Sierra Leone2635
World Avg3249
q=178.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted".

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery (2018)23
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims23
1Japan0.03
2Canada0.05
3Taiwan0.05
...
43Suriname0.23
44Spain0.23
45Ecuador0.24
46Italy0.24
47Morocco0.24
48El Salvador0.25
49Portugal0.25
50Peru0.26
World Avg0.65
q=167.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory24. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends25. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life26. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves27.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery28. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity29. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.30. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi23, Eritrea23, Indonesia31) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery32.

3. Gender Equality Data Sets

Italy is notable for its equality between the sexes.

See:

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality (2015)11
Pos.Lower is better11
1Switzerland0.04
2Denmark0.04
3Netherlands0.04
...
13Luxembourg0.07
14Austria0.08
15Spain0.08
16Italy0.08
17Portugal0.09
18Canada0.10
19France0.10
20Israel0.10
World Avg0.36
q=159.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

3.2. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Pos.Lower is better
Year
1New Zealand1893
2Australia1902
3Finland1906
...
50Jamaica1944
51Slovenia1945
52Croatia1945
53Italy1945
54Senegal1945
55Indonesia1945
56Japan1945
57Togo1945
World Avg1930
q=189.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

4. Prejudice Data Sets

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)12
Pos.Lower is better
%12
1Laos0
2Philippines3
3Sweden4
...
23Jamaica18
24India20
25Ireland20
26Italy20
27China20
28Portugal21
29Ivory Coast22
30Estonia22
World Avg36.8
q=101.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews33,34,35,36. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East37, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews38,39. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"40. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males41.

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

LGBT Equality (2017)15
Pos.Higher is better
Score15
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
...
40Switzerland40
41Serbia40
42Cyprus40
43Italy40
44Greece39
45Czechia39
46Slovakia39
47Romania39
World Avg12.6
q=196.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence42. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws43. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries42. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

5. Freedom of Belief and Religion

#christianity #islam #Italy #judaism #religion_in_Italy

Italian law has a definite bias towards Catholic Christianity44. Although the constitution protects freedom of religion and belief, blasphemy laws are specifically used to the favour of Christians, and the education system is somewhat biased - all classrooms in state schools must display crucifixes, for example44, which can only ever entrench prejudice and discrimination at the social level.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union produced a report in 2012 entitled "Freedom of Thought" (2012)44, in which they document bias and prejudice at the national level that is based on religion, belief and/or lack of belief. Their entry for Italy states:

The constitution and other laws and policies protect freedom of religion or belief. However, under article 724 of the penal code, blasphemy is considered as an "administrative offense" and punished with a fine. Administrative law requires that all classrooms in state schools display crucifixes. Additionally, the government recognizes the Holy See as a sovereign authority. Under the 1984 revision of the concordat with the Catholic Church, the state is secular but maintains the practice of state support for religion, which can also be extended to non-Catholic confessions if requested. In such cases, state support is governed by legislation implementing the provisions of an intesa (accord) between the government and the religious group. An intesa grants clergy automatic access to state hospitals, prisons, and military barracks; allows for civil registry of religious marriages; facilitates special religious practices regarding funerals; and exempts students from school attendance on religious holidays. If a religious community so requests, an intesa may provide for state routing of funds, through a voluntary check-off on taxpayer returns, to that community. The state paid Catholic religion teachers, but this financial support was not available to other religious communities. If a student requested the assistance of a religion teacher of a non-Catholic religious group, that group could select a representative but had to cover the cost. The government provided funds for the construction of places of worship, granted public land for their construction, and helped preserve and maintain historic places of worship that shelter much of the country's artistic and cultural heritage.

Cases of Discrimination

On June 12, 2006, the blasphemy case against the author Oriana Fallaci begins in Bergamo, Italy. Prosecutors alleged that her latest book, La Forza della Ragione (The Force of Reason), contained eighteen statements "unequivocally offensive to Islam and Muslims." Oriana Fallaci died of lung cancer before the trial could conclude.

On March 16, 2005, a Milan court prohibited a billboard campaign by the clothes company Francois Girbaut because of a photo imitating Leonardo's Last Supper.

On October 20, 2010, the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini, called for Muslims, Jewsand Christians to unite to fight the "threat" that he claims atheism poses to society.

"Freedom of Thought" by IHEU (2012)44