Head of state: Giorgio Napolitano
Head of government: Silvio Berlusconi
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 60.1 million
Life expectancy: 81.4 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 5/4 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 98.8 per cent
Roma rights continued to be violated and forced evictions contributed to driving those affected deeper into poverty and marginalization. Derogatory and discriminatory remarks by politicians against Roma, migrants and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people promoted a climate of rising intolerance. Violent homophobic attacks continued. Asylum-seekers were unable to access effective procedures to seek international protection. Reports of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials continued. Concerns persisted about the thoroughness of investigations into deaths in custody and alleged ill-treatment. Italy refused to introduce the crime of torture into domestic legislation.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights visited Italy for the first time in March. Among other things, she was concerned that Italian authorities were treating Roma and migrants as "security problems" rather than looking at ways to include them in society.
In April, the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture published reports on the periodic visits to Italy of September 2008 and July 2009, highlighting, among other things, the lack of a torture provision in the criminal code and the overcrowding of prison facilities. The 2009 report also condemned the policy of intercepting migrants at sea and forcing them to return to Libya or other non-European countries as a violation of the principle of non-refoulement (prohibition on returning individuals to countries where they would risk serious human rights violations).
On 25 June, the European Committee of Social Rights found that Italy discriminated against Roma and Sinti in the enjoyment of several rights, including their rights to housing and protection against poverty and social exclusion, and the right of migrant workers and their families to protection and assistance.
In February, Italy's human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review. In May, the government responded by rejecting 12 of the 92 recommendations received. Of particular concern was the refusal to introduce the crime of torture into domestic legislation and to abolish the crime of irregular migration.
Roma continued to face discrimination in the enjoyment of their rights to education, housing, health care and employment. Derogatory remarks by some politicians and representatives of various authorities helped foster a climate of intolerance towards Roma, migrants and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
In August, the Observatory for Security Against Discriminatory Acts set up by police authorities became operational; this mechanism aims to encourage and make it simpler for victims to submit complaints against discriminatory attacks.
Roma - forced evictions
Forced evictions of Roma continued throughout the country. Some families were subjected to repeated forced evictions, which disrupted their communities, their access to work and made it impossible for some children to attend school.