The child abduction procedure in Italy
The Italian procedure to be followed in the case of international abduction of a child habitually resident in Italy is governed by Law No. 64 of 15th January 1994: in particular, the national regulations complement the agreement-based set of rules and describe a simplified and faster procedure, which follows the rules of the proceedings in chambers.
In cases of outgoing international abduction, the Italian regulations do not include the figure of the guardian ad litem; instead, a fundamental role is played by the Public Prosecutor: he/she receives the deeds from the Central Authority and, if he/she deems the conditions of the 1980 Hague Convention to be fulfilled, requests, with an urgent appeal to the Juvenile Court, the return of the child that has been unlawfully abducted and taken to a State other than that of his/her habitual residence.
Hearing in court
The President of the Juvenile Court shall schedule by decree the hearing in chambers: during this hearing, the parents/those with parental responsibility and the child (if considered capable of forming his or her own views) shall be heard, and the reports of social services shall be obtained.
Hearing the child
In the Italian legal system, the hearing of the child in proceedings concerning international abduction is necessary and unavoidable, as the hearing of the child aged twelve or under twelve – if capable of forming his or her own views – is provided for in all proceedings concerning him/her (Article 315 paragraph 3-bis). The hearing of a child of tender age, but capable of forming his or her own views, may be carried out in specific ways entrusted to experts who are auxiliaries to the judge (ordinary judges, lay judges with a degree in psychology).
Although the general principle is the hearing of the child, the judge may, by reasoned decree, not proceed with the hearing of the child if it goes against what is known as the “best interest of the child” or is manifestly superfluous.
At the end of the proceedings, the Court shall decide by means of a decree that is immediately enforceable and the Public Prosecutor, who may avail him or herself of the juvenile services of the administration of justice (Art. 7 paragraph 5, Law No. 64/1994), shall be responsible for its execution.