Italy

Italy

Conscription: No (since 2005).

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict: Signed (6 Sep 2000). Ratified (9 May 2002).
Voluntary recruitment age: 18.
Conscientious objection recognised for professional soldiers: No.

Remarks:
1) Italy had three military schools: the Teuliè Military School in Milan, the Nunziatella Military School in Naples and the Francesco Morosini Naval Military School in Venice. Applicants had to be between 15 and 17 years of age and pass an entrance examination. In addition to the normal school curriculum, students received military training, including combat and weapons training. Italy’s Initial Report on the Optional Protocol was ambiguous as to whether students enrolled in military schools were considered part of the armed forces. It was particularly unclear regarding the status of students aged 16 and over, who had to sign a three-year contract of “special voluntary recruitment” into the armed forces before they were allowed to continue their studies. Failure to sign the contract resulted in expulsion from the military school, raising questions as to whether the recruitment was genuinely voluntary. Although parents or guardians had to authorize a child’s age (as 15 or above) before he could be admitted to a military school, a parent or guardian’s informed consent was not required for the contract of “special voluntary recruitment” into the armed forces, signed by military school students at the age of 16. There was no obvious requirement that students had to be fully informed of the duties involved in military service before signing the contract. The Initial Report also said nothing about 16-year-olds providing “reliable proof of age” at the point of signing the contract. Despite this contract of “special voluntary recruitment” into the armed forces, Italy maintained the position that such students were not part of the armed forces. The relevant paragraphs in the Initial Report suggested some confusion between the concept of membership of the armed forces and that of taking a direct part in hostilities. The Initial Report did not clarify when the three-year contract of voluntary recruitment would begin, and also failed to make it clear whether the students would be considered military recruits during their education at the military school, or on graduation.
2) There is no right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.

Recommendations:
1) Stop military training and abolish military schools for persons aged under 18.
2) Recognise the right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.