Annual Report: Italy 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Italy 2013

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On 5 July, the Supreme Court confirmed all 25 convictions issued on appeal against high-ranking officials and police officers responsible for the torture and other ill-treatment of demonstrators on 21 July 2001. Senior officials were convicted for falsifying arrest documents, and sentences ranged from five years to three years and eight months of imprisonment. However, due to a law designed to cut inmate numbers, which allows for a three-year reduction in sentences, nobody was imprisoned, although all were suspended from duty for five years. Convictions issued on appeal for grievous bodily harm against nine officers lapsed, as the statute of limitation came into effect prior to the conclusion of the appeal to the Supreme Court, which also meant they would not be suspended from duty. All the convicted officers, including those whose crimes were covered by the statute of limitations, were due to undergo disciplinary proceedings.

Unlawful killings

Shortcomings in the investigations of a number of deaths in custody resulted in a lack of accountability for police and prison officers. There were concerns that municipal police forces were assigned firearms without adequate safeguards and were using them in a manner not consistent with international law.

  • On 13 February, Marcelo Valentino Gómez Cortés, a 28-year-old Chilean national, unarmed, was shot and killed by an officer of the Milan municipal police. In October, the officer was found guilty at first instance of homicide and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. The officer appealed against the verdict. He had been assigned to desk duties after the incident and his firearm licence was revoked.
  • In March, a prison officer was found guilty of failure to assist Aldo Bianzino, who died in Perugia prison in 2007 two days after his arrest, and of falsifying documents. The officer received a suspended 18-month custodial sentence. The trial revealed failures in the original investigation into the death. The family continued to campaign for the reopening of the case.
  • In April, a first-instance judge acquitted a doctor accused of manslaughter for prescribing the wrong medical treatment to Giuseppe Uva, who died shortly after being stopped by police in 2008 in Varese. The judge ordered a new investigation focusing on the period between when Giuseppe Uva was stopped by police and his arrival at the hospital. Forensic examinations carried out in December 2011 had revealed that the victim could have been raped and ill-treated.

Violence against women and girls

Violence against women remained widespread, with approximately 122 killings reported in 2012. The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women noted in June that, notwithstanding improvements in legislation and policy, killings had not decreased. Her recommendations included: an independent national human rights institution with a section dedicated to women's rights; a law on violence against women; and the amendment of the crime of irregular migration to ensure access to justice for migrant women in irregular situations.

Legal, constitutional or institutional developments

In December parliament passed overdue legislation required to comply with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which Italy ratified in 1999. Measures were introduced to regulate judicial co-operation with the International Criminal Court.

Also in December, a parliamentary committee examining a bill aimed at creating a national human rights institution concluded that, due to imminent parliamentary elections, it was impossible to pass the bill in the current session. The bill had already been through a lengthy parliamentary debate in the higher chamber. International bodies, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, had criticized Italy on many occasions for its failure to establish a national human rights institution compliant with international standards.