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Court: Italian authorities failed to protect a drug-dependent victim of a child prostitution ring

Human rights judges ruled today that Italian authorities failed a drug-dependent victim of a child prostitution ring.

In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of V.C. v. Italy (application no. 54227/14) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Articles 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) and 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Under  Article 41 (just satisfaction), the court held that Italy was to pay the applicant 30,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 10,000 in respect of costs and expenses.

In April 2013 the applicant, V.C. – an Italian national who was born in 1997 – was at a party when the police arrived and seized drugs and alcohol.

Her parents, when interviewed by the Rome public prosecutor’s office, stated that their daughter suffered from drug addiction and psychological disorders and had been contacted via Facebook by a photographer wanting to take pornographic pictures.

V.C. was also interviewed by the public prosecutor and refused to be placed in a specialist institution or a foster family.

In June 2013 V.C.’s mother informed the public prosecutor that her daughter had again been contacted to appear in pornographic photographs. The prosecutor reported V.C.’s case to the Youth Court and applied to have urgent proceedings instituted with a view to placing her in a specialist facility.

In December 2013 the court ruled that V.C. was to be placed in the care of social services and housed in a specialist institution for 12 months. The social services contacted the V.L. centre, which refused to admit her as it had no places available. In the meantime, during the night of 30 to 31 January 2014, V.C. was the victim of a gang rape.

Two individuals are currently being tried for this offence.

The European court found in particular that the authorities had not acted with the necessary diligence and had not taken all reasonable measures in good time to prevent the abuses suffered by V.C.

Although the criminal courts had acted promptly, the Youth Court and the social services had not taken any immediate protective measures, even though they had known that V.C. (aged 15 at the time) was vulnerable and that proceedings concerning her sexual exploitation and an investigation into the gang rape were ongoing.


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