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Italy: Parliamentary Investigation Commission Established to Review Protection of Minors in Care

(Sept. 18, 2020) Law No. 107 of July 29, 2020, a new law creating a Parliamentary Investigative Commission to investigate the activities of family-type communities providing care for minors, entered into effect in Italy on September 12, 2020.

Mandate of the Commission

The role of the Commission is to investigate the current situation of minors who have been entrusted to the care of family-type communities in the country (to a family, single person, or family-type community as opposed to an institution), particularly concerning the effective implementation of protective measures for minors issued by tribunals. In addition, the Commission is to carry out random checks on the use of public and private resources destined for such communities and assess the adequacy of government grants or allocations, with particular reference to territorial differences throughout the country. Ultimately, the Commission is to determine whether the constitutional and legal rights of minors entrusted to family-type communities are being respected. (Law No. 107 art. 3(1).)

Composition of the Commission

The Commission is composed of twenty senators and twenty deputies appointed by the presidents of the respective parliamentary chambers, ensuring representation of the political majorities in Parliament. The Commission appoints its own president through secret ballot. The Commission is to perform its inquiry for the duration of the XVIII Italian Parliament, that is, until March 2023, and upon conclusion of its mandate must submit a report to the full Chamber of Deputies. (Law No. 107 arts. 1(2)-(3) &  2(1), (3).)

Powers of the Commission

The Commission is empowered by law to conduct its inquiry with the same powers and limitations applicable to judicial authorities. The privilege defenses of professional secrets, banking secrets, and parliamentary secrets do not apply to proceedings before the Commission. The Commission may obtain copies of documents related to its inquiry from judicial and parliamentary authorities, even if they are confidential, but must guarantee the confidentiality of such documents during its own proceedings. The Commission may also issue direct orders to judicial agents and officials, other magistrates, and to other officials of the public administration. (Law No. 107 arts. 4(1)(a), (3), (4);  5(1); 7(4).)

Internal Organization of the Commission

The Commission must approve its internal regulations, which may contemplate the creation of one or several internal committees. Commission hearings are public unless the Commission orders otherwise. (Law No. 107 art. 7(2), (3).)

Special Provisions Concerning the Custody of Minors and Assessment of Situations of Neglect

The law also amends article 2 of Law No. 184 of May 4, 1983, on the Adoption and Custody of Minors, stating that the judicial order granting custody of a minor to a public or private assistance institution rather than a family-type of structure must expressly state the reasons for such decision. (Law No. 107 art. 9(1).)