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Italian government preparing to move on human rights ruling

European court decision on children's surname triggers action

09 January, 14:53
Italian government preparing to move on human rights ruling (ANSA) - Rome, January 9 - The Italian government is preparing to act on a European court ruling earlier this week ordering Italy to change its laws to allow parents to give their children the mother's surname, sources in the office of Premier Enrico Letta said Thursday.

Two days earlier, politicians, activists and lawyers cheered a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights ordering Italy to change its current law which says children born of married Italian nationals must take the father's surname, in most cases.

A 2000 provision allows parents to add the mother's name in some circumstances.

In their ruling, the European judges described the Italian system as "excessively rigid and discriminatory towards women".

Jole Santelli of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia, now in opposition, said on Tuesday that she hoped parliament "might now at last make up its mind to (revise) a law that is obsolete, allowing children to receive their mother's surname".

The judges in Strasbourg upheld their complaint on grounds of articles 14 and eight of the European Convention on Human Rights respectively, concerning prohibition of discrimination and right to respect for private and family life, and ordered Italy to modify its legislation as a result.

Italy was given three months to appeal the sentence before it becomes binding.

The case was triggered when Alessandra Cusan filed a complaint against the Italian state with the Strasbourg court because she was prevented from conferring her surname on her daughter Maddalena, born in 1999, following a lengthy battle in the Italian courts.