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Fundamental rights

«The Republic recognises and guarantees inviolable human rights,
both for the individual and within social groups where the individual’s personality is expressed,
and it requires the fulfilment of the imperative duties of political, economic and social solidarity»
(article 2 of the Italian Constitution)

In general, the Italian laws regulating the legal condition of foreign citizens reaffirm fundamental human rights (article 2 of the Constitution).
Article 2 expresses the Italian State’s solemn acknowledgement of inviolable human rights. This article states the principle according to which even the sovereign power must stop in front of the individual’s rights.

It recognises fundamental rights in the sense that it accepts them as something that already exist: rights are not created by the State, but exist regardless of the latter. The inviolability of rights does not mean that the State cannot in some cases limit these rights (in fact, the Constitution sets limits by regulating the various freedoms), but said limits must be set with legally valid actions.
Human rights include civil, family, social rights as well as several forms of political consultative participation of foreign citizens lawfully residing in Italy.
Therefore, regulations are structured in such a way to be considered an essential tool for favouring foreign citizens’ integration, with the aim to extend the effectiveness of the principle of equality stated in article 3 of the Constitution. Therefore, the principle of equality entails that foreign citizens lawfully residing not only have duties but also rights, benefitting from the condition of equality with citizens.
In any case, fundamental human rights are implemented also toward foreign citizens present on the State’s territory in unlawful conditions.

Protection against racial, ethnic and religious discriminations

Articles 43 and 44 of the Single Text on Immigration introduce civil actions against racist and xenophobe discriminations originated by actions of private citizens or public administration.
In particular, article 43 defines discrimination as «all behaviours that, directly or indirectly, entail a distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, ancestors or national or ethnic origins, religious beliefs or practices, and that have the aim or effect to destroy or compromise the recognition, benefitting or exercise, in conditions of equality, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in political, economic, social and cultural sectors and in every other sector of public life.»
Article 43, paragraph 2, of the Single Text on Immigration identifies five kinds of discriminatory conducts mostly widespread in the ambit of housing, the labour market and the relationship with the public administration:
  • Discrimination in the relationship with public powers, that is when a public official or person in charge of a public service while carrying out his/her functions performs or omits actions against foreign citizens, only due to the condition of foreign citizen or the belonging to a specific race, religion, ethnic group or nationality.
  • Discrimination carried out by those who offer goods or services to the public, should the service be offered at more disadvantageous conditions or not be offered at all due to the condition of foreign citizen.
  • Discrimination in access to work, housing, education and welfare services, should said services be offered at more disadvantageous conditions or not be offered at all due to the condition of foreign citizen.
  • Discriminatory impediment to carry out an economic activity started legitimately by a foreign citizen lawfully resident in Italy
  • Discrimination on the job, should the employer or his/her persons in charge carry out any action or behaviour that produces discriminatory effects on the working foreign citizen, due to his/her race, ethnic or language group, religious belief or other citizenship.
Therefore, pursuant to article 44, it is possible to appeal to the ordinary judicial authority in order to ask for the cessation of the prejudicial behaviour and of the removal of the effects of the discrimination, according to a summary order (art. 28 of Lgs.D. 150 of 2011).
The victim appealing can find relief owing to the sentencing of the person liable to the compensation of damages even not patrimonial, to which the judge can add the order of cessation of the prejudicial behaviour.

In order to ensure greater effectiveness to the judge’s ruling the law provides for a further penal sanction in case of non-compliance with the judicial measures with regard to the discriminatory action carried out.
Go to the National Office against Racial Discrimination’s page (UNAR)