‘War on terror’
The Italian authorities failed to co-operate fully with investigations into human rights violations in the “war on terror” and came under criticism from the European Parliament for their involvement in renditions.
- On 16 February, an Italian judge issued indictments against seven Italian citizens, primarily operatives of the Italian military and security service agency, Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Militare (SISMI), in connection with the abduction of Abu Omar. Abu Omar, of Egyptian nationality and resident in Italy, was abducted from a street in Milan in 2003 and sent to Egypt as part of the US-led programme of renditions. On arrival in Egypt Abu Omar was immediately detained and allegedly subjected to torture; he was released on 11 February 2007 without charge. A Milan court issued extradition requests in July 2006 and in February 2007 it issued indictments against 26 US citizens suspected of being involved in the rendition. By the end of the year the Minister of Justice had failed to forward to the US authorities the extradition requests for 26 US citizens, most of them thought to be agents of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
In April, the Constitutional Court declared admissible the Italian government’s appeal of “conflict of powers”. The government claimed that the judiciary had taken on powers it was not constitutionally allowed when collecting some of the evidence in the proceedings against those accused of being responsible for Abu Omar’s rendition. On 18 June the trial was suspended pending the outcome of the Constitutional Court’s review, and remained suspended at the end of the year.
- In February, the European Parliament condemned the extraordinary rendition of Italian citizen Abou Elkassim Britel in a resolution on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners. Abou Elkassim Britel was arrested in Pakistan in March 2002 by the Pakistani police and interrogated by US and Pakistani officials, then subsequently rendered to the Moroccan authorities. The Italian Ministry of Interior reportedly co-operated with foreign secret services concerning the case of Abou Elkassim Britel following his arrest in Pakistan.
Italy retained legislation (the so-called Pisanu Law) on urgent measures to combat terrorism which provides for expulsion orders of both regular and irregular migrants without effective protection against forcible return to countries where they may be at risk of serious human rights violations. The Law does not require the person deported to have been convicted of or charged with a crime connected to terrorism. The expulsion can be ordered by the Minister of Interior or, under his/her delegation, by a Prefect (Prefetto). The Law does not provide for judicial confirmation or authorization of the expulsion decision and of its implementation. A decision to expel under the Law may be appealed before a judge, but the appeal does not suspend the deportation. In its Concluding Observations on 18 May, the UN Committee Against Torture recommended that Italy comply fully with Article 3 of the Convention against Torture regarding refoulement. The Committee expressed particular concern regarding the Pisanu Law.
- On 4 January, Cherif Foued Ben Fitouri was expelled from Italy to Tunisia under the provisions of the Pisanu Law. According to the expulsion order, he was removed from Italy for being an acquaintance of people involved with Islamic groups allegedly planning terrorist acts. In Tunisia he was held in solitary confinement in the Ministry of Interior. On 16 January, he was transferred to a prison under military jurisdiction. According to reports received by Amnesty International, he was subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment whilst in detention in Tunisia. He remained in detention in Tunisia at the end of the year.
- On 29 May the Italian authorities requested the Tunisian government to provide diplomatic assurances that were Nassim Saadi to be deported from Italy to Tunisia, he would not be subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights. On 8 August 2006, the Minister of Interior had ordered the deportation of Nassim Saadi to Tunisia. On 14 September 2006, Nassim Saadi launched an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to suspend his expulsion. The Court issued an interim measure and the expulsion was suspended until further notice.
Police and security forces
Italy continued to lack an effective police accountability mechanism. There were irregularities in legal processes against law enforcement officials accused of human rights violations. One person was shot dead by a law enforcement officer and another died while in police custody under circumstances which at the end of the year were subject to judicial investigations. The first sentences for police ill-treatment during the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa were handed down.
- On 19 October, the trial against four police officers accused of voluntary manslaughter of Federico Aldrovandi began. Federico Aldrovandi died on 25 September 2005 after being stopped by four police officers in Ferrara. During the pre-trial investigations blood samples taken at the place of Federico Aldrovandi’s death disappeared and then re-emerged, and records of phone calls to emergency services the night of his death were tampered with.
- On 4 April, law enforcement officers reportedly used excessive force to break up a potentially violent clash between AS Roma and Manchester United supporters during a football match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Images and witness statements to Amnesty International showed that between 60 and 100 Italian police officers entered the area of the stadium where Manchester fans were situated and severely beat football supporters with batons. Several victims reported that police officers repeatedly hit them while they were lying on the ground, and on the head or their back from behind. Some of those assaulted had still not recovered from their injuries by the end of the year and some had been told that they would remain partially incapacitated for the rest of their lives.
Trials against law enforcement officials involved in the policing of the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001 continued. It is estimated that over 200,000 people participated in anti-globalization demonstrations on the streets of Genoa in the days immediately preceding and during the summit in 2001.
- On 17 January, it emerged that key evidence during a hearing in the trial of 29 police officers facing charges of, among others, violence and the fabrication of evidence in relation to the Diaz school building raid, had disappeared. The Genoa Questura (police station) stated that they may have been “destroyed by mistake”.
- In May, the first sentence for the G8 events was handed down. The Ministry of Interior was sentenced to pay reparations of €5,000 to Marina Spaccini and €18,000 to Simona Zabetta Coda, who were beaten by police officers in Genoa.
- In March, the European Court of Human Rights declared admissible the application lodged in the case of Carlo Giuliani, who was fatally shot by a law enforcement official during the G8 summit.
UN Committee against Torture
On 18 May, the CAT published its Concluding Observations on Italy. The CAT recommended that Italy incorporate into domestic law the crime of torture and adopt a definition of torture that covers all the elements contained in Article 1 of the Convention. The CAT further recommended that all law enforcement officers be adequately equipped and trained to employ non-violent means and only resort to the use of force and firearms when strictly necessary and proportionate. The CAT noted continued allegations of excessive use of force and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials. Regarding accountability for law enforcement officials who engage in disproportionate and unnecessary violence, the CAT recommended that Italy “strengthen its measures to ensure prompt, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment committed by law enforcement officials.”
Migrants and refugees’ rights
Italy still lacked a specific and comprehensive asylum law in line with the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
A governmental draft bill approved on 24 April by the Council of Ministers contained new proposals for detention of migrants. The bill set out guidelines for amendments to the Comprehensive Law on Immigration 286/98 (Testo Unico Immigrazione, known as the Turco-Napolitano law) as modified by Law 189/02 (known as the Bossi-Fini law). These guidelines included rules on unaccompanied minors, detention and deportation. A directive was issued by the Ministry of Interior, requesting that the relevant Prefect allow access to the UNHCR, “humanitarian and international organisations”, local NGOs and journalists to centres holding asylum-seekers and irregular migrants.
In its Concluding Observations on 18 May, the CAT stated that Italy should take effective measures to ensure that detention of asylum-seekers and other non-citizens is used only in exceptional circumstances or as a measure of last resort, and then only for the shortest possible time and that Italy should also ensure that courts carry out a more effective judicial review of the detention of these groups.
Discrimination – Roma
On 2 November, an urgent Decree Law came into force which made it possible for the Italian authorities to expel European Union (EU) citizens based on concerns for public security. The Decree Law did not comply with EU Directive 2004/38 /EC and seemed to be directed at Romanian citizens of Romani origin as a reaction to the suspected murder in Rome of an Italian woman by a man described as a Roma from Romania. Within two weeks after the Decree Law came into force 177 persons had been expelled.
In May, the mayors of Rome and Milan signed “Security Pacts” which envisaged the forced eviction of up to 10,000 Romani people. Throughout the year, the Italian authorities engaged in large-scale evictions of Roma communities which contravened international human rights standards. Discriminatory language was used by several leading politicians, including the Prefect of Rome, Carlo Mosca, who reportedly referred to Romanian Roma as beasts (“bestie”) in early November.
Amnesty International visits/reports
- Amnesty International delegates visited Italy in April and in October.
- Europe and Central Asia: Summary of Amnesty International’s concerns in the region January-June 2007 (EUR 01/010/2007)
- Italy: A briefing to the UN Committee against Torture (EUR 30/003/2007)