Key facts of the case:
The Surveillance Court of Bari questioned the constitutional legitimacy of art. 47 of the Law No. 354 of 26 July 1975, on “Dipositions concerning the penitentiary system and on the execution of measures depriving people of their personal freedom”, which excludes those mothers condemned for specific criminal offences – such as terrorism – from the possibility of serving their sentence outside the prison in order to adequately take care of their children. According to the Court of Bari this disposition violates the principle of the child’s best interest protection and arts.3, 29, 30 and 31 of the Italian Constitution.
Outcome of the case:
The Constitutional court – considering that the principle of the protection of the child’s best interest is guaranteed both by the Italian Constitution and by many international legislative dispositions Italy is bound to – decided that the above-mentioned legislative disposition does not allow a proper balance between the need to protect children and families and the need to protect public security because it completely excludes from the possibility to serve part of the sentence outside the prison facilities for those mothers who are condemned for specific criminal offences. According to the Constitutional Court, each case should be assessed on an individual basis: prisoner mothers whose children are aged less than 10 should be guaranteed the possibility to serve part of their sentences outside prison without considering the type of criminal offence they are condemned for, in case the Court considers that there is not an actual possibility of repetition of the offence or of absconding. For these reasons, the Constitutional Court considered the above-mentioned legislative disposition as illegitimate because it violates art. 31.2 of the Italian Constitution.
This court stressed on several occasions... the great significance of the minor child’s interest in maintaining an enduring relationship with both parents, from whom s/he has the right to receive care, parenting, and education, and it also stressed that this interest is complex and based on different legal situations. These situations are acknowledged and protected both by the national constitutional system – which requires the Republic to protect childhood by guaranteeing the adoption of the provisions necessary to this end (Article 31, paragraph 2 of the Italian Constitution) – and by the international legal framework, especially considering Article 3, paragraph 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed in New York on 20 November 1989, and ratified and implemented in Italy through Law No. 176 of 27 May 1991, as well asArticle 24, paragraph 2 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights of 7 December 2000, as adapted at Strasbourg on 12 December 2007.
Questa Corte ha evidenziato in numerose occasioni … la speciale rilevanza dell’interesse del figlio minore a mantenere un rapporto continuativo con ciascuno dei genitori, dai quali ha diritto di ricevere cura, educazione e istruzione, ed ha riconosciuto che tale interesse è complesso ed articolato in diverse situazioni giuridiche. Queste ultime trovano riconoscimento e tutela sia nell’ordinamento costituzionale interno – che demanda alla Repubblica di proteggere l’infanzia, favorendo gli istituti necessari a tale scopo (art. 31, secondo comma, Cost.) – sia nell’ordinamento internazionale, ove vengono in particolare considerazione le previsioni dell’art. 3, comma 1, della Convenzione sui diritti del fanciullo, fatta a New York il 20 novembre 1989, ratificata e resa esecutiva in Italia con legge 27 maggio 1991, n. 176, e dell’art. 24, comma 2, della Carta dei diritti fondamentali dell’Unione europea del 7 dicembre 2000, adattata il 12 dicembre 2007 a Strasburgo.