A child being vaccinated by a pediatrician | Photo: Archive/ANSA/Valdrin Xhemaj
A child being vaccinated by a pediatrician | Photo: Archive/ANSA/Valdrin Xhemaj

A court in the Italian city of Venice has ruled that the lack of access in the Veneto region to regular pediatric services for undocumented non-EU foreigners in Italy is discriminatory. The court ordered the regional government and the local healthcare unit to provide free pediatric services to all minors.

The government of the northeastern Italian Veneto region and the local healthcare unit have been ordered by a Venice court to recognize the right to cost-free pediatric services even to non-EU child migrants without official papers.

The October 19 ruling stated that the lack of access for minors of any nationality and official status in the country to public pediatric services was discriminatory.

The announcement came from the Italian association for legal studies on immigration ASGI, which had brought the case to the attention of the judiciary.

Regional guidelines 'discriminatory'

The association noted that, according to the current directives part of the regional guidelines, undocumented foreign minors have access only to emergency services and not to a pediatrician.

The lawyers said that this excludes the possibility of regular access to a pediatrician, which migrant children with papers and Italians have access to and which is necessary for monitoring growth and for preventative measures.

The case was brought before the court by the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI), which submitted a report by the Emergency NGO on the activities of its pediatric center in Marghera that shows a lack of healthcare.

In the order cited by the association, the legal team of the Veneto regional government recognized that ''inside the ULSS healthcare clinic there is no stable service [an office for this purpose] for general pediatric medicine for the subjects in question."

Court decision

ASGI noted that the court had ruled that ''equal treatment in terms of healthcare for minors, regardless of any other condition, was established by the New York Convention of November 20, 1989 on child rights.

It is also guaranteed by Article 63 of a prime minister's decree from December 1, 2017 on "essential healthcare," which states that ''foreign minors on national territory that do not have official entrance or stay documents should be signed up to the national healthcare service and use healthcare services with the same right to it as Italian citizens."

ASGI underscored that the judge had ruled the practice of not providing pediatric services to undocumented migrant children to be discriminatory.


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