International Criminology World

World : Europe : Italy

Italy is largely homogeneous linguistically and religiously but is diverse culturally, economically, and politically. Italy has the fifth-highest population density in Europe--about 200 persons per square kilometer (490 per sq. mi.). Minority groups are small, the largest being the German-speaking people of Bolzano Province and the Slovenes around Trieste. Other groups comprise small communities of Albanian, Greek, Ladino, and French origin. Immigration has increased in recent years, however, while the Italian population is declining overall due to low birth rates. Although Roman Catholicism is the majority religion--85% of native-born citizens are nominally Catholic--all religious faiths are provided equal freedom before the law by the constitution.

Greeks settled in the southern tip of the Italian peninsula in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.; Etruscans, Romans, and others inhabited the central and northern mainland. The peninsula subsequently was unified under the Roman Republic. The neighboring islands also came under Roman control by the third century B.C.; by the first century A.D., the Roman Empire effectively dominated the Mediterranean world. After the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West in the fifth century A.D., the peninsula and islands were subjected to a series of invasions, and political unity was lost. Italy became an oft-changing succession of small states, principalities, and kingdoms, which fought among themselves and were subject to ambitions of foreign powers. Popes of Rome ruled central Italy; rivalries between the popes and the Holy Roman Emperors, who claimed Italy as their domain, often made the peninsula a battleground.

The commercial prosperity of northern and central Italian cities, beginning in the 11th century, and the influence of the Renaissance mitigated somewhat the effects of these medieval political rivalries. Although Italy declined after the 16th century, the Renaissance had strengthened the idea of a single Italian nationality. By the early 19th century, a nationalist movement developed and led to the reunification of Italy--except for Rome--in the 1860s. In 1861, Victor Emmanuel II of the House of Savoy was proclaimed King of Italy. Rome was incorporated in 1870. From 1870 until 1922, Italy was a constitutional monarchy with a parliament elected under limited suffrage.

During World War I, Italy renounced its standing alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary and, in 1915, entered the war on the side of the Allies. Under the postwar settlement, Italy received some former Austrian territory along the northeast frontier. In 1922, Benito Mussolini came to power and, over the next few years, eliminated political parties, curtailed personal liberties, and installed a fascist dictatorship termed the Corporate State. The King, with little or no effective power, remained titular head of state. Italy allied with Germany and declared war on the United Kingdom and France in 1940. In 1941, Italy--with the other Axis powers, Germany and Japan--declared war on the United States and the Soviet Union. Following the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943, the King dismissed Mussolini and appointed Marshal Pietro Badoglio as Premier. The Badoglio government declared war on Germany, which quickly occupied most of the country and freed Mussolini, who led a brief-lived regime in the north. An anti-fascist popular resistance movement grew during the last 2 years of the war, harassing German forces before they were driven out in April 1945. A 1946 plebiscite ended the monarchy, and a constituent assembly was elected to draw up plans for the republic. Under the 1947 peace treaty, minor adjustments were made in Italy's frontier with France, the eastern border area was transferred to Yugoslavia, and the area around the city of Trieste was designated a free territory. In 1954, the free territory, which had remained under the administration of U.S.-U.K. forces (Zone A, including the city of Trieste) and Yugoslav forces (Zone B), was divided between Italy and Yugoslavia, principally along the zonal boundary. This arrangement was made permanent by the Italian-Yugoslav Treaty of Osimo, ratified in 1977 (currently being discussed by Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia). Under the 1947 peace treaty, Italy also relinquished its overseas territories and certain Mediterranean islands. The Roman Catholic Church's status in Italy has been determined, since its temporal powers ended in 1870, by a series of accords with the Italian Government. Under the Lateran Pacts of 1929, which were confirmed by the present constitution, the state of Vatican City is recognized by Italy as an independent, sovereign entity. While preserving that recognition, in 1984, Italy and the Vatican updated several provisions of the 1929 accords. Included was the end of Roman Catholicism as Italy's formal state religion.

Today, Italy is a longstanding, multiparty parliamentary democracy. Executive authority is vested in the Council of Ministers, headed by the president of the Council (the Prime Minister). The Head of State (President of the Republic) nominates the Prime Minister after consulting with the leaders of all political forces in Parliament. In May the Parliament was elected in elections that were considered free and democratic. The Government respects the constitutional provision for an independent judiciary; however, the judiciary's effort to provide citizens with a fair judicial process is complicated by long trial delays and the impact of organized crime on the criminal justice system.


Italy has an advanced, industrialized market economy, and the standard of living is high for the country's population of approximately 57.8 million; in 2000 the per capita gross national product was $22,100. Small and midsized companies employ from 70 to 80 percent of the work force. Major products include machinery, textiles, apparel, transportation equipment, and food and agricultural products. The Government owns a substantial number of enterprises in finance, communications, industry, transportation, and services, but privatization continued to move forward at a measured pace.

The Italian economy has changed dramatically since the end of World War II. From an agriculturally based economy, it has developed into an industrial state ranked as the world's fifth-largest industrial economy. Italy belongs to the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized nations; it is a member of the European Union and the OECD.


The most significant legislation that has affected the criminal justice system was the 1988 promulgation of a new Code of Penal Procedure. The new Code represented a substantial shifting from the old inquisitorial system to a modern adversarial system.

The most important innovation of this new legislation concerns the admission of evidence that, as a rule, can be obtained only during the course of an oral and public trial, in front of the judge (acting as a third party) on the basis of witnesses' cross- examination and other kinds of proof legally presented in the Court. The trial is conducted by the prosecution and defense on a parity basis.

The former inquisitorial procedure had allowed the admission of evidence obtained both in the course of the trial and in the preliminary investigation stage. The preliminary investigation was typically characterized by secrecy concerning documentation of the pre-trial investigation. An investigating judge was in charge of collecting criminal evidence as well as conducting direct examinations of the witnesses. During the trial, the examination of witnesses was conducted by the Chief Judge.

Although the new Italian Code of Penal Procedure is similar to the adversarial English and American systems, its system of written laws still retains important differences when compared with the Anglo-American system, such as the obligatoriness of penal action.

The obligatoriness of penal action is sanctioned by the Constitution. According to this provision, the Public Prosecutor, when becoming acquainted with the commission of a crime, is legally bound to start the investigation and, if there is enough circumstantial evidence, to take penal action against the alleged culprit of that particular crime. The Italian Prosecutor is therefore without discretionary power to withhold prosecution. Prosecution is not simply a right, but a duty of the Italian Public Prosecutor.

However, certain crimes can only be prosecuted under specific conditions; penal action cannot be taken unless a specific requirement is met. Crimes prosecutable by initiative of the offended person, can range from forcible rape to personal minor injury and can be prosecuted only if the offended person requests the Public Prosecutor to proceed against someone for the alleged commission of a crime. Excluding rape and similar sex offenses, this request can be withdrawn, which essentially eliminates the crime.

For crimes allegedly committed by members of the two branches of Parliament, a special authorization of the Parliament is required in order both to carry out certain types of investigation procedures (search and seizure, wire tapping) and to arrest or otherwise limit their personal freedom. That is, another condition of prosecutability (procedibilita) can be the authorization to proceed.

Up until October 1993, a similar authorization was required to bring members of the Parliament to trial. This provision was revoked and under a modification of Article 68 of the Constitution, the judiciary is now free to prosecute the members, although they cannot be arrested or imprisoned until a final sentence of guilt has been pronounced.

All criminal offenses are divided by the Penal Code into two broad categories: delitti, which are serious offenses and contravvenzioni, which are less serious offenses. The two categories are also used to help to classify special law statutes (drugs, prostitution, weapons, bankruptcy, pollution, hunting, traffic, customs, tax evasion, Military Code in wartime and in peacetime). The distinction between delitti and contravvenzioni crimes is based on the seriousness of the crime and on the severity of punishment. Although they are both punishable by imprisonment and/or fine, the sentences for delitti are more severe than those for the contravvenzioni. (For delitti crimes, the penalty is 15 days to 24 years imprisonment, and as much as 30 years or life imprisonment in special cases. For contravvenzioni crimes, the penalty is 5 days to 3 years imprisonment. As a rule, sentences for contravvenzioni are served in different types of prison facilities than those used for delitti. Fines vary considerably and can amount to 500,000 U. S. Dollars for serious drug offenses.)

The Penal Code generally classifies each crime under a specific heading: a) Crimes against the Nation, (for example, espionage, assassination of the President, armed bands, terrorism); b) Crimes against public authority (for instance, corruption, bribery, embezzlement of public property by an officer); c) Crimes against judicial authority (for example, Perjury, to suborn a witness); d) Crimes against religious feelings and against the feelings of pity towards the dead (profanation of a tomb, offenses against religion); e) Crimes against the public order/breach of the peace (for instance, criminal association, particularly of the mafioso type); f) Crimes against public safety(poisoning food, water and drugs, arson, provoking a railway or air disaster); g) Crimes against public faithfulness (forgery and counterfeiting); h) Crimes against public economy, industry and commerce (commercial fraud); i) Crimes against public morality (rape, indecent exposure); j) Crimes against the family (bigamy, incest); k) Crimes against the person/violent crimes (murder, assault, non-ransom kidnapping, defamation); and, l) Crimes against property (theft, money laundering, robbery, extortion, ransom kidnapping). (The Penal Code considers the violent crimes of robbery, extortion, and ransom kidnapping as property crimes because their main intent i to gain property.)

The age of criminal responsibility is 18 under the Penal Code, which also states that a person is chargeable with a crime only if mentally competent at the time of its commission. Over the age of 18, a person is considered fully chargeable with a crime unless a mental evaluation ordered by the judge finds the person mentally incompetent due to a mental disease, deaf-mutism, or chronic intoxication from alcohol or drug abuse. (Mentally incompetent individuals who commit serious crimes are considered socially dangerous and must undergo compulsory hospitalization in a special mental institution for offenders (ospedale psichiatrico giudiziario). In these cases, usually no criminal sanction is imposed. Instead, compulsory hospitalization in a special mental institution for insane offenders is provided as a safety measure, except in minor offense cases.

A person can also be considered criminally liable, if as the result of a psychiatric examination, he or she is found partly mentally incompetent because of mental disease, chronic intoxication deriving from alcohol, drug abuse, or deaf-mutism. In that case, in addition to the penal sanction, compulsory hospitalization is provided as a safety measure. For minor offenses, release under surveillance may be imposed as an alternative measure.

A person under 14 years old is not considered mentally competent and therefore cannot be charged with any crime. If mentally competent, a person between 14 and 18 years old is considered legally responsible, although a more lenient criminal sanction is imposed.

The personal use of drugs has recently been decriminalized. Following a national referendum, a new law does not permit imprisonment for drug-related activities involving personal use only. In these cases, only administrative sanctions, such as revoking a driving license or passport, can be imposed. However, producing, selling or trafficking drugs are considered very serious crimes. Criminal association with drug offenses is alone punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 30 years. Illegal drugs include opium and its derivatives (morphine, heroin), cocaine and its derivatives, amphetamine, synthetic drugs, cannabis, and hashish. (According to international agreements, all narcotics (and nonnarcotic dangerous drugs) whose manufacturing and distribution is prohibited or restricted, are listed in the Official Gazette, October 9, 1990.)


The definitions of the following crimes (reati) are provided in the Penal Code. The number of crimes reported by police to the judiciary were collected by the Institute of Statistics (ISTAT). The 1992 figures are taken from ISTAT, press release, March 17, 1993. Excluding homicide, ISTAT sources do not specify whether attempts are included.

In 1992, there were a total of 1,461 incidents of murder and 1,851 incidents of attempted murder . (Figures for the number of murders in prior years: 1,096 (1987); 1,255 (1988); 1,563 (1989); 1773 (1990); and 1,916 (1991). Figures for the number of attempted murders in prior years: 15,900 (1987); 1,586 (1988); 1,759 (1989);1,959 (1990); and 2,197 (1991). In 1991, the rate for murders and attempted murders recorded was 3.31 and 3.8 per 100,000 population, respectively.) The figures for murder/intentional homicide do not include infanticides.

In 1992, there were 806 incidents of forcible rape reported by police. (The number of rapes recorded for prior years: 871 (1987); 865 (1988); 687 (1989); 687 (1990); 733 (1991). The rate of rapes recorded in 1991 was 1.26 per 100,000 population.)

In 1992, the police reported 193,170 incidents of burglary, in the home. (The number of burglarly incidents which took place in the home, recorded for prior years: 158,305 (1987); 160,860 (1988); 175,408 (1989); 210,835 (1990); and 206,216 (1991). In 1991, the rate for recorded burglaries was 357.09 per 100,000.) Burglary in private houses is reported here as a serious property crime because it is routinely punished more severely than other forms of aggravated theft (pocket picking), which is typically punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison under the Penal law.

In 1992, there were 42,164 incidents of drug offenses reported by police. (The number of drug offenses recorded for prior years: 21,590 (1987); 31,079 (1988); 30,180 (1989); 30,691 (1990) and 40,421 (1991). The rate of drug offenses in 1991 was 69.99 per 100,000.) These incidents include the offenses of growing, manufacturing, selling or distributing drugs.

Organized crime conducts illegal activities over portions of the territory in at least three regions: Sicilia (Mafia), Calabria (N'drangheta) and Campania (Camorra). Although each organization has a different history, structure and modus operandi, their main illegal activities (which often involve violent crime) are similar, ranging from extortion and drug trafficking to corruption. (Art. 416 of the Penal Code defines these activities in detail. For example, criminal association of the mafioso type providing severe penalties of up to 15 years in prison for involvement in the association alone. The law also has special prosecuting and sentencing provisions for this type of crime, which includes kidnapping and drug offenses. In prosecuting these cases, some evidence obtained from outside sources may be admitted, including evidence gathered during the trial or in the pre-trial investigation stage. The pre-trial investigation stage and pre-trial incarceration can extend past the limits normally provided by the law. Convicted defendants of this crime also are allowed less privileges than other convicted criminals. However, the accused is entitled to a penalty reduction and other privileges if he or she decides to cooperate with the justice system by producing evidence that can be used to effectively fight organized crime.) The Penal Code defines these activities in detail and provides for a 15 year maximum prison sentence for such crimes.

A specific form of rural criminality can be found in the central-eastern mountainous area of inner Sardinia, which has a high rate of violent crime that includes homicide, assault, bombing, rustling and ransom kidnapping.

More recently, the crime rate in Italy was medium compared to other industrialized countries. According to the United Nations Seventh Annual Survey on Crime, crime recorded in police statistics shows the crime rate for the combined total of all Index crimes in Italy to be 2913.32 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2000 (noting that burglary was not reported by Italy). This compares with 1951.92 for Japan (country with a low crime rate) and 4123.97 for USA (country with high crime rate). For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the year 2000 for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. For intentional homicides, the rate in year 2000 was 1.29 for Italy, 0,.50 for Japan, and 5.51 for USA. For major assaults, the rate was 50.38 for Italy, compared with 34.04 for Japan, and 323.62 for USA. (Note these data for Japan and Italy are for total recorded assaults, since Japan and Italy did not report a figure for major assaults.) For rapes, the rate was 4.05 for Italy, 1.78 for Japan, and 32.05 for USA. For robberies, the rate was 65.38 for Italy, 4.07 for Japan, and 144.92 for USA. For automobile theft, the rate was 422.69 for Italy, 243.81 for Japan, and 414.17 for USA. The rate of burglaries for 2000 was not reported for Italy. The rate for thefts was 2369.53 for Italy, compared with 1434.27 for Japan and 2475.27 for USA. (Note that USA data were those reported to INTERPOL for year 2000, since USA has not yet reported this data to UN.)


Between 1995 and 2000, according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder decreased from 1.77 to 1.29 per 100,000 population, a decrease of 27.1%. The rate for rape increased from 1.65 to 4.05, an increase of 145.5%. The rate of robbery increased from 50.02 to 65.38, an increase of 30.7%. The rate for total assaults increased from 37.49 to 50.38, an increase of 34.4%. The rate for burglary was not reported by Italy in either year. The rate of larceny increased from 1434.39 to 2369.53, an increase of 65.2% The rate of motor vehicle theft decreased from 533.95 to 422.69, an decrease of 20.8%. The rate of total index offenses increased from 2059.27 to 2913.32, an increase of 41.5%.


The Italian judicial system is based on Roman law modified by the Napoleonic code and subsequent statutes. There is only partial judicial review of legislation in the American sense. A constitutional court, which passes on the constitutionality of laws, is a post-World War II innovation. Its powers, volume, and frequency of decisions are not as extensive as those of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Although the origins of Italian penal legislation can be traced back to Roman and middle age canonic law, its general principles derive from the French Enlightenment. These principles include clarity of the law, no punishment without trial, proportionality between crime and punishment, definitions of crime and punishment based on a system of written laws and fixed penalties, and the elimination of secret accusations. The dissemination of these principles is commonly ascribed to the influence of Cesare Beccaria's Treatise On Crimes and Punishments. Actually, these principles were part of the general reformist approach and judicial enlightenment expounded by various thinkers even before Beccaria had published his Treatise. For example, in his "Spirit of Laws" (1764), Montesquieu had already written in favor of clarity of the law, not to mention Voltaire's ardent opposition to secret accusations.

The new principles of the French Revolution are affirmed in the 1791 and 1795 French Penal Codes and eventually in the Napoleon Code of 1810. All subsequent Italian Penal Codes bear the mark of French influence. In 1889, a general Penal Code for the new Kingdom of Italy was promulgated by the Ministry of Justice, Zanardelli.

In 1919, a commission chaired by Enrico Ferri was appointed in order to forward a proposal of revision of the Zanardelli Penal Code. This revision project, named the Project of Penal Code or the Ferri Project was completed in 1921, but it was rejected because it was considered too radical due to its acceptance of Positive and Social Defense School principles.

In 1925, another commission, chaired by the jurist Arturo Rocco, Professor of Penal Law and Procedure, put forward a new project which resulted in the Italian Penal Code, known as the Rocco Code. This Code, linked with the Code of Penal Procedure which became effective at the same time has subsequently been modified in order to conform to the principles of the Republican Constitution, but is essentially unchanged in its basic structure and is still in force in Italy. The linked Code of Penal Procedure was in force until 1988.

Criminal procedure can be described as adversarial in nature. No informal justice system exists. The Italian legal system is based on written laws. Penal Law defines what specific behavior is criminal and what specific minimum and maximum penalties are provided. The basic principles of no penalty without a law and no crime without a law are stated in the Penal Code and in the Constitution.

Other basic constitutional principles follow as well: a) legal responsibility rests solely on the acting individual; b) rules of penal law are not retroactive; c) no one can be sentenced without a fair trial (nulla poena sine judicio); d) no one can be considered guilty until a final sentence has been pronounced; e) penalties cannot consist in treatment contrary to the sense of humanity and must tend to the rehabilitation of the offender; and f) personal freedom is inviolable and no one shall be deprived of it except under specific provisions of the law.

The Bench (judiciary and prosecutors) is autonomous and independent from the political Legislative and Executive powers. A self-governed elective Board of which two-thirds are a large majority of judges and prosecutors, is permanently in charge of all decisions concerning the Bench, such as recruitment, assignments, transfers, promotions, and disciplinary actions (judges and prosecutors cannot be removed). The Constitution also states that judges are subjected only to the authority of the law. The Legislative Power has the monopoly on the production of the Penal Law (directly or through laws enacted under delegate power).

The Constitution prescribes the general norms of the penal system. No law can conflict with the Constitution. The Constitutional Court is in charge of evaluating the conformity of specific rules of the Penal Law to the Constitution.


The armed forces are under the control of the Ministry of Defense. The Ministry of Defense controls the Carabinieri, a military security force; however, the Ministry of Interior assumes control of the Carabinieri when they are called upon to assist police forces in maintaining public order. Four separate police forces report to different ministerial or local authorities. Under exceptional circumstances, the Government may call on the army to provide security in the form of police duty in certain local areas, thereby freeing the Carabinieri and local police to focus on other duties. During the last few years, the army intermittently has supported the police in Sicily and in the province of Naples, where there are high levels of organized crime. In September 2000, the Government sent an augmented force to Naples of 500 police and Carabinieri to combat criminal violence in the city; these elements were withdrawn gradually between February and June. However, military units were dispatched to protect sensitive sites after terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001. There were allegations that police committed human rights abuses.

There are three main state police corps in Italy: the State Police, the Carabinieri, and the Finance Guard. The Carabinieri and Finance Guard (employed mainly in the investigation of financial crimes) is a military corps, under authority of the Ministry of Defence and of the Ministry of Finance, respectively. The State Police is a civil corps under authority of the Ministry of the Interior and is responsible for all functions listed in the United Nation's definition of police (prevention, detection, investigation, and apprehension of alleged offenders). There also exist local police corps with limited jurisdiction (rangers, city police, traffic police, railway police, coast guard).

The Code of Penal Procedure states the functions of the investigating police. Appointed police officers from all police corps carry out criminal investigation functions under direction of the judicial authority in the criminal investigation departments. In addition to the criminal investigation departments located at the Public Prosecutor's offices, there are also criminal investigation services which are established all over the country at the local Carabinieri, State Police and Finance Guard stations. Criminal investigative services are directly and exclusively used for the Public Prosecutor for particular criminal investigations. The Central Operating Service coordinates all police criminal investigation activities under the authority of the Chief of Police and the Ministry of the Interior.

The Ministry of the Interior has recently established a special agency of criminal investigation, called the DIA (Direzione Investigativa Antimafia) to be in charge of organized crime investigations. The DIA is directed by a high ranking Carabinieri, State Police or Chief Finance Guard Officer. This interforce structure is used by the National Antimafia Prosecuting Attorney, who is also the head of the National Antimafia Prosecutor Office.

As of Dec. 31, 1990, the total number of police, including the State Police, Carabinieri and Finance Police, and the criminal investigation police, was 241,429, of which 234,729 were male and 6,700 were female.

As of Dec. 31, 1990, the total number of police personnel was 200,660, of which 189,240 were male and 11,420 were female. Sworn/uniformed police comprised 192,817 of this total and civilians comprised 7,843. (On Dec. 31, 1986, the total number of police personnel was 183,393, of which 179,242 were male and 4,151 were female. Sworn/uniformed police comprised 177.371 of this total and civilians numbered 6,022.)

Handguns, automatic weapons and batons are commonly carried on sworn uniformed police officers. Individually, police officers are issued one Beretta 92 SB double action semiautomatic pistol, cal 9 mm. Parabellum (8 or 15-shot) as a personal weapon for the duration of their service. There are also ordinary and special party armaments which are not personal and must be returned when not on duty. Ordinary armament is generally available to all police officers for ordinary team activities such as patrolling. Special armament requires special training and is generally only available to special squads, such as anti-kidnapping and anti-terrorist squads. Types of ordinary party armament include: a) Rubber or plastic cylindrical internally hollow nightstick with an overall length between 40 to 60 centimeters or 19 to 24 inches; b) Beretta PM 12S fully automatic submachine pistol, cal. 9 mm. Parabellum; c) Semiautomatic plus slide-action 12 Gauge shotgun; and d) a fully automatic, semiautomatic, or bolt action rifle, cal. 5.56 mm or 7.62 NATO mm. Types of special party armament (armamento speciale di reparto) include: a) Beretta 92 SB double action semiautomatic pistol, cal 9 mm. Parabellum (8 or 15-shot); b) Revolver (cal. 38 Special, 357 Magnum, 9 mm. Parabellum); c) Beretta PM 12S fully automatic submachine pistol, cal. 9 mm. Parabellum; d) Fully automatic (or semiautomatic, or bolt action) rifle, cal. 5.56 mm or 7.62 NATO mm.; e) Machine gun; f) Hand grenades, which can also to be launched with the rifle; g) Explosives of various types; and h) Self-propelled weapons (bazooka). Both ordinary and special party armament includes other weapons and accessories, such as bullet-proof vests, training pistols and rifles, cal 4.5 mm. air guns, light and smoke devices, helmets, silencers, nightly vision binoculars and scopes, various types of knives, and narcotizing weapons.

To become a senior officer or executive in the state police, a masters of law degree is required. In the military structure (Carabinieri and Finance Guard) it is required to attend the military academy and the scuola ufficiali. The Scuola di Perfezionamento per le Forze di Polizia provides the highest level of specialization for police officers of all police corps. All state police corps have schools and training programs for police personnel. A clean record and good moral qualities are required to join the police.

Police may use force and/or deadly force in self defense to drive back acts of violence, to overcome resistance to authority, or to prevent the occurrence of very serious crimes (slaughter, homicide, kidnapping, robbery), providing that there is an immediate danger of the occurrence of these crimes and that the police reaction is proportionate to such danger.

The law requires police to arrest and incarcerate a person if caught in flagrancy (in the act of committing a crime) or immediately after the crime's commission, if the crime is punishable by a 5 to 20 year prison sentence or life imprisonment. An arrest is also required for other serious crimes including: 1) crimes against the state; 2) devastation and ransacking; 3) crimes agaist public safety; 4) reduction to slavery; 5) serious forms of aggravated theft; 6) robbery, extortion; 7) illegal manufacturing, smuggling, selling, letting have, possessing, or carrying in a public place of illegal weapons, especially military weapons; 8) serious drug crimes; 9) crimes of terrorism and subversion, secrecy, mafioso, military and political illegal associations; and 10) criminal association with the intent to commit some of the aforementioned crimes (for example, number 1,2,3,4,6,7 and 9). These crimes are are listed in the Code of Penal Procedure and have attached penalties such as 3 to 10 years of imprisonment. The police have facultative power to arrest and incarcerate a suspect, if caught "in flagrancy," for crimes punishable by more than 3 years in prison, with a 5 year maximum if the crime is unintentional. Facultative arrest powers are also in force for other crimes such as: 1) embezzlement of public property by an officer; 2) corruption of a public officer; 3) threat or violence to a public officer; 4) commerce and supply of bad food or drugs; 5) corruption of a minor; 6) assault provoking a personal injury; 7) theft; 8) aggravated damaging; 9) fraud; and 10) misappropriation of private funds or property. Generally these crimes are punishable by more than 6 months to 5 years in prison and are listed in the Code of Penal Procedure. Police may also arrest and incarcerate a person suspected of having committed a crime for which the law provides a minimum penalty of no less than 2 years in prison and a maximum of more than 6 years in prison, even if the suspect is not caught in flagrancy such as crimes involving weapons or explosives. Arrest and incarceration may be imposed if there is relevant circumstantial evidence of guilt before the Public Prosecutor starts the investigation, or if there is danger that the suspect will escape and there is no time to get a warrant signed by the Public Prosecutor. In all cases (mandatory and facultative "arresto" or "fermo"), the police must immediately notify the Public Prosecutor, the defense attorney and the suspect's family of the arrest. Within 48 hours, the Public Prosecutor must request the Judge for the Preliminary Investigation (G.I.P.) to fix a hearing in order to confirm the arrest within the next 48 hours. If the 48 hour terms are not met, the arrest loses its validity and the arrested person is set free.

The G.I.P summons the defendant, the defense attorney and the prosecutor for the special validation hearing. At this hearing, the G.I.P. examines the prosecutor's conclusions concerning the motives of the arrest and the defendant is questioned in the presence of his attorney. The G.I.P. then decides on the legitimacy of the arrest and issues an order of release. After arrest, procedures to process the suspect further in the criminal justice system are specifically and formally provided by the Code of Penal Procedure. After the arrest has been made and reported to the judge, all subsequent procedural decisions are made by the judge or prosecutor. The majority of arrests are made while the suspect is committing a crime in "flagrancy" in which a warrant is obtained.

For the purpose of collecting criminal evidence, as a rule, a search requires a warrant signed by the judge. In particular cases of emergency connected with serious crimes (for example, kidnapping, drug offenses) the police may search or seize property without a warrant. In this case, police must give notice of the searching/seizing within 48 hours to the prosecutor who is bound to verify its legitimacy. Illegal searching and seizing of property by police officers is punished by law as an abuse of power. Illegally obtained evidence is not admissible in a case. The law provides that all statements, including confessions, made in the presence of police officers or at any stage of judicial proceedings are invalid, when obtained by coercion. Also, the mere confession of a crime does not amount to full evidence of guilt.

Complaints against alleged illegal police behavior are filed according to the same procedures provided for an alleged violation of the Penal Law. Complaints can be filed directly at the Public Prosecutor's Office or at any investigating police office. There is no state-independent board to process complaints, nor are there "watchdog" committees.

The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, and the law and the judiciary provide effective means of dealing with instances of individual abuse; however, there were problems in some areas. There were some reports of police abuse of detainees, and use of excessive force against ethnic minorities and demonstrators. There were reports that police denied some detainees arrested after antiglobalization protests access to a lawyer. Accusations of police abuse are investigated by the judiciary.

The law prohibits torture and cruel or degrading punishment; however, there were reports of incidents in which police abused detainees. According to reports published during the year 2001 by Amnesty International, there were numerous allegations of the deliberate use of excessive force against individuals detained in connection with common criminal offenses or in the course of identity checks. According to allegations, mistreatment, when it occurs, usually occurs at the time of arrest and during the first 24 hours in custody and affects both citizens and foreigners. A large number of alleged victims were women. A high proportion of the allegations received by Amnesty International concern foreign nationals (many of them from Africa), as well as Roma.

Amnesty International reported on incidents involving the deliberate use by police of excessive force in March and July 2001 during mass antiglobalization demonstrations in Naples. During the March Global Forum demonstrations, detainees alleged that they were forced to kneel on the floor of police stations for lengthy periods of time, and were subjected to random and deliberate beatings with truncheons, as well as slaps, kicks, punches, and other verbal insults frequently of an obscene, sexual nature. Many detainees also reported that they were subjected to invasive body searches.

Amnesty International also reported on police use of excessive force in July during the G-8 Conference in Genoa. The Government detailed experienced security forces to protect the heads of government who were meeting in a restricted area, while urban areas outside this area were left with reduced and less experienced police protection. Violent demonstrators destroyed property and attacked the police and police responded with force. Subsequent to this event, police raided the headquarters of the antiglobalization group, Genoa Social Forum, where a number of demonstrators were staying, and detained approximately 100 persons; approximately 60 of those detained sustained numerous and severe injuries. Other injuries allegedly were inflicted as detainees were transported to detention facilities; there also were reports that police mistreated some persons at the detention centers. Approximately 300 persons in total were detained during the Conference. These events gave rise to subsequent judicial and parliamentary investigations; the judicial investigation was ongoing at year's end 2001. The parliamentary report noted that while violent demonstrations outside the G-8 meeting area required police intervention, there were coordination problems within and between security forces. Police unions, while strongly criticizing individual instances of unprofessional behavior, objected to blanket accusations and criticized policies that left their members without clear orders and unprepared to cope with massive and unruly street protests.

Some government visa operations are under investigation for visa fraud in connection with trafficking.

Searches and electronic monitoring may be carried out only under judicial warrant and in carefully defined circumstances; violations are subject to legal sanctions. However, following the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, Parliament expanded anti-terrorist laws to apply to suspects responsible for directing violent acts outside the country's borders and authorized prosecutors to order wiretaps in connection with ongoing investigations. Parliament imposed safeguards to prevent the release of information intercepted without prior judicial authorization to unauthorized persons and forbade its use in criminal proceedings.


The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention; however, during the protests in March and July, there were reports that the authorities did not respect these rights in practice.

Warrants are required for arrests unless there is a specific and immediate danger to which the police must respond without waiting for a warrant. Arrests resulting from the July G-8 Conference in Genoa, particularly those made as a result of a police raid on the headquarters of the Genoa Social Forum, generated controversy. Most of the 300 persons arrested at the Conference were promptly freed without charges filed against them. However, a few detainees, particularly non-Italians, were held for longer periods of time. Most non-Italians were expelled from the country and prohibited from reentering for 5 years

Under the law, detainees are allowed prompt and regular access to lawyers of their choosing and to family members; however, during the Global Forum protest in March, there were allegations that authorities denied detainees access to a lawyer and did not allow detainees to have a family member or third person informed of their whereabouts. The State provides a lawyer to indigents. Within 24 hours of being detained, the examining magistrate must decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed to an arrest. The investigating judge then has 48 hours in which to confirm the arrest and recommend whether the case goes to trial. In exceptional circumstances--usually in cases of organized crime figures--where there is danger that attorneys may attempt to tamper with evidence, the investigating judge may take up to 5 days to interrogate the accused before the accused is allowed to contact an attorney. The U.N. Human Rights Committee, the treaty monitoring body for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, recommended in 1998 that this 5-day period be reduced and that all detainees have access to legal advice immediately upon arrest.

There is no provision for bail, but judges may grant provisional liberty to suspects awaiting trial. As a safeguard against unjustified detention, panels of judges (liberty tribunals) review cases of persons awaiting trial on a regular basis per a detainee's request, and rule whether continued detention is warranted. Persons in detention include not only those awaiting trial, but also individuals awaiting the outcome of a first or second appeal. Pretrial detention may last for a maximum of 24 months. The Constitution and the law provide for restitution in cases of unjust detention

Preventive detention can be imposed only as a last resort if there is clear and convincing evidence of a serious offense (such as crimes involving the Mafia or those related to drugs, arms, or subversion), or if there is a risk of an offense being repeated or of evidence being falsified. In these cases, a maximum of 2 years of preliminary investigation is permitted. Except in extraordinary situations, preventive custody is not permitted for pregnant women, single parents of children under 3 years of age, persons over 70 years of age, or those who are seriously ill. Preventive custody may be imposed only for crimes punishable by a maximum sentence of not less than 4 years. Prosecutors are required to include all evidence favorable to the accused in requests for preventive detention. The defense may present any favorable evidence directly to the court. Magistrates' interrogations of persons in custody must be recorded on audio tape or videotape to be admissible in judicial proceedings.


The Convention for the Safeguard of Human Rights and the annexed Protocol is, for all purposes, part of the Italian Legal System in that no national law can conflict with its provisions. (The Convention and Protocol have been signed by all government members of the Council of Europe and are in force in Italy as a State law.) It states that persons have the right to an independent and impartial trial in an impartial tribunal and the right to life, liberty, safety and property. The Convention also states that the accused has the right to a public trial, with some exceptions, within an adequate period of time, to be informed of the nature and content of the accusation, to cross examine witnesses for the prosecution, to subpoena witnesses for the defense, the right to counsel, and the right to be presumed innocent. The Italian Constitution also provides for general principles such as the inviolable rights to liberty and counsel and the equality of all citizens before the law. Principles similar to those found in the Italian Constitution and the Convention for the Safeguard of Human Rights can also be found in many sections of the Penal Code and Code of Penal Procedure. For instance, the accused has the right to be fully informed of the charge and of the existing evidence against him or her, and to be informed of the source of the evidence, such as the identity of the claimant(s), unless this would be detrimental to the investigation. The accused also has the right to remain silent and is considered not guilty until a final sentence has been pronounced. Uncertainty about the guilt of the accused due to insufficient or contradictory evidence can result in a judgement of full acquittal. The accused also has the right to be present at trial, to confront opposing witnesses, and to have all witnesses cross-examined by the defense attorney. In addition, the accused has the right to be tried by a judicial panel or by a single judge, depending on the type of court, according to territorial jurisdiction where the crime has been committed. The accused cannot be removed from the "natural judge," meaning, from the judge who is competent to try the case, under law. The accused may not be tried twice for the same crime and has the right to be tried in a fair trial, that is, by an independent and impartial tribunal.

The accused has the right to select and employ a defense attorney in order to get legal assistance and to produce evidence in his/her defense at any stage of judicial proceedings, including the arrest and investigation stage. If the accused does not designate a defense attorney, a counsel is appointed by the Court. This applies to all crimes of all types of severity. The law states that indigents must be provided with counsel. The Bar Association Nation provides a roster of available attorneys who are legally bound to provide defense counseling. A Bar Association Nation exists in each district; therefore, many rosters of attorneys are available. If eligible, the accused can select and employ a defense attorney at state expense, under law. Eligibility is determined on the basis of personal or family income.

The Public Prosecutor conducts the pre-trial investigation either directly or indirectly by employing the investigating police. An investigation takes place to establish whether there is enough circumstantial criminal evidence to prompt penal action. Depending on the type of crime, the investigation must be completed within a legally fixed period of time. If the prosecutor does not find probable cause after the investigation, he or she requests the Judge for the Preliminary Investigation (G.I.P) to dismiss the case. If cause is found, the prosecutor formally charges the defendant with the commission of the crime and requests the G.I.P to commit the defendant for trial. After the G.I.P. holds a hearing, he or she issues an order for trial or, in case of unsupported charges, pronounces a no case judgement (nolle prosequi). In the lowest court level, the Public Prosecutor is in charge of signing or not signing the indictment. Two other forms of trial are the direct trial and the immediate trial. In direct trials, the Public Prosecutor can order the accused to be brought up to trial within 48 hours, if he or she was caught in the midst of committing a crime. In immediate trials, the accused may be brought directly to trial without the preliminary hearing, if during the preliminary investigation there is clear evidence of guilt.

The prosecution of the accused is conducted by the Public Prosecutor. In the trial stage, prosecution and defense are in a position of parity. Similar to a judge, the Public Prosecutor is a career official (public servant) considered to be a part of the Bench although the prosecutor is not a judge. The distinction between prosecutors and judges is based on the different functions of the prosecutor and the judge, who are both considered magistrates. The Italian magistry is divided into the inquiring magistry, who are the public prosecutors, and the judging magistry, who are the judges. The prosecutor is in charge of conducting the investigation and prosecution while the judge passes judgement on the case and imposes a sentence. (The terms magistrate and magistracy refer to all judges and prosecutors, independent of their level, competency and jurisdiction.)

The accused does not have the right to plead guilty to a lesser offense (plea bargain). (The inadmissibility of a plea bargain in the system is based on the principle of the obbligatorieta dell'azione penale, which allows no discretion in prosecution. Once acquainted with the commission of a crime, the judicial authority is legally bound to take action against that particular crime and cannot choose to seek prosecution to a lesser charge in exchange for a plea of guilt. In other words, discretionary or selective enforcement does not exist in the system. The prosecutor has no discretionary power to engage in plea bargaining. The crimes prosecutable by the initiative of the offended person also adheres to this rule.) In the case of a miscarriage of justice, compensation for damages is provided. In addition, there are 3 pre-trial alternatives: 1) Short trial. Upon a defendant's formal request, the case is decided in the course of the preliminary hearing on the basis of findings of the preliminary investigation, providing that the Public Prosecutor agrees with it. If found guilty, the defendant is entitled to a reduction of one-third of the penalty provided for the crime (for instance, 6 years in prison instead of 9). The reduction applies to all crimes except those incurring a life sentence. This alternative addresses the problem of lengthy trials. It was originally introduced to save both money and time. 2) Imposition of specific penalty. The prosecution and defense can jointly ask the judge for the imposition of a specific penalty on which they both agree, as long as the suggested penalty does not exceed 2 years in prison, even when reduced to one-third of the time. If the defendant does not commit the same kind of delitto for 5 years after the sentence or contravvenzione crime for 2 Years, the offense is legally extinguished. (Although this is informally called bargain, it is entirely different from the plea bargain known in the United States court system.). 3) Penal decree of condemnation. For minor crimes punishable with fines and/or prison up to 3 months, the Public Prosecutor, by decree, can request the G.I.P to condemn the defendant to pay a fine, the amount of which is reduced up to 50% of the minimum amount provided by law. The decree is issued without hearing the defendant, who can always oppose the G.I.P decision, in which case the decree loses its validity and the defendant goes to trial. A cash settlement for contravvenzioni crimes can also be reached. In these cases the defendant may be permitted to pay 50% of the maximum amount of the fine provided by law for that particular contravvenzione, plus legal expenses.

The majority of prosecuted cases for serious crimes go to trial, notwithstanding the use of pre-trial alternatives in the new Code of Penal Procedure. Approximately 20% of all cases are resolved by pre- trial alternatives, while 80% go to trial. It had been expected that the use of new non-trial alternatives would result in 80% of all cases being resolved without a trial.

The Judge for the Preliminary Investigation (G.I.P.) can opt for pre-trial incarceration, or precautionary custody (custodia cautelare), at the request of the Public Prosecutor. Except in cases of mandatory or facultative arrest, pre-trial incarceration is permitted only when a person is accused of a crime carrying a maximum penalty exceeding 3 years in prison and when at least one of the following conditions is present: 1) Danger of counterfeiting, destruction of evidence; 2) Danger of escape; and 3) Danger of committing more crimes of the same kind. Precautionary custody is permitted when other sanctions such as a prohibition against leaving the country or town, daily check-ins at the police station, and house arrest are deemed insufficient.

Bail is not allowed in the penal system.

As of December 31, 1992, there were 47,588 prisoners. The total number of convicted offenders in prison serving a sentence were 19,855 (41.7%). The total number of incarcerated pre-trial offenders who were awaiting trial was 26,444 (55.6%). (The total number of prisoners awaiting trial includes all prisoners awaiting a final sentence, such as those who are awaiting a first instance judgement and all convicted prisoners who appealed against decisions at any stage of a criminal proceeding.) This figure does not include the 1,289 (2.7%) offenders subjected to safety measures in prison who were not awaiting trial.

Except for the lowest court level (the Pretura) with a single judge (Pretore), courts consist of a judicial panel made up of a number of stipendiary judges (giudici togati). In the Court of Assizes and Court of Assizes of Appeal the judicial panel consists of stipendiary and popular judges (giudici popolari). There is no jury. The Pretura is a trial court and operates in the first stage of legal proceedings. It has the jurisdiction to try criminal cases carrying a maximum penalty of 4 years in prison and cases involving: a) violence or threat to a public officer; b) insulting a judge at trial; c) aggravated violation of an official seal; d) aiding an abetting; e) abuse/maltreatment; f) aggravated brawl; g) manslaughter (non intentional homicide); h) aggravated housebreaking; i) aggaravated theft; l) aggaravated fraud; m) receiving stolen goods. The prosecution is conducted by the Public Prosecutor at the Pretura. The Court of Assizes has jurisdiction to try crimes carrying a maximum penalty of 24 years in prison or life imprisonment, and other serious crimes. The Prosecution is conducted by the Public Prosecutor at the Court of Assizes/ The Tribunal (Tribunale) has jurisdiction over all other crimes. The prosecution is conducted by the Public Prosecutor of the Tribunal. The prosecution for organized crime (Mafia), ransom kidnapping, drug trafficking and related crimes is conducted by the Anti-mafia Public Prosecutor. Appeals against Tribunal and Pretura decisions are decided by the Court of Appeal (Corte d'Appello). Appeals against Court of Assizes decisions are decided by the Court of Assizes of Appeal. In the appeal stage, prosecution is conducted by the Attorney General at the Court of Appeal. The Court of Cassation, which is the third stage of proceedings, decides appeals concerning questions of formal legitimacy. The Prosecution is conducted by the Attorney General at the Court of Cassation. Juvenile criminal courts have jurisdiction on crimes commited by minors between 14 and 18 years old. The court consists of 2 stipendiary judges and 2 honorary judges (psychologists or experts in juvenile crime). There is a Court of Appeal for juveniles, with the same judicial panel composition for appeals.

As of July 21, 1993, there were 8,174 judges in active service, of which 5,982 were male and 2,192 were female.

All judges and prosecutors are non-elective, stipendiary public officers. A Masters of law degree is a necessary qualification. They are selected through public national competitions and begin serving after a period of training as uditori giudiziari under the supervision of experienced judges.

The judge decides the guilt and sentence in all cases. There is no special sentencing hearing. Passing sentence and the determination of guilt occur simultaneously. At the end of the trial, the judge immediately pronounces the verdict. The judge must issue the sentence in writing, explaining judicial and factual motivation, and have it made public within a maximum term of 90 days after the verdict, but usually within 15 days. Psychiatrists, as expert witnesses for both prosecution and defense, have input into the sentencing process when an issue of mental incompetency, disease, or defect is considered in order to exclude or diminish criminal responsibility. However, the judge is not bound to accept the opinion expressed by expert witnesses.

The principal penalties used are prison, including life imprisonment, and fines. Secondary penalties, which are always inflicted in connection with the principal penalties, are basically forms of legal interdiction or disqualification (prohibition against holding public and private office, forfeiture of parental authority). As a rule, all property crimes are punished by imprisonment and fine. If the penalty does not exceed 2 years in prison and the convicted person has no previous criminal record, the judge may suspend the sentence for a period of 5 years for a delitto or 2 years for a contravvenzione. If the convicted person does not commit a delitto or a contravvenzione within these periods of time, the criminal offense is extinguished. When pronouncing a sentence for minor crimes, the judge may substitute imprisonment with substitute sanctions for short-term imprisonment. These sanctions are: a) Semi-custody: only the night is spent in prison; b) Release under control (liberta` controllata): a number of restrictions are imposed, such as not leaving town or daily check-ins at the local police station; and c) Pecuniary sanction/fine. After a final sentence of conviction has been pronounced, another judicial panel, the Tribunal of Surveillance, which consists of 2 stipendiary judges and 2 experts who are not judges (psychiatrists, psychologists, pedagogists, and criminologists) may apply alternative measures to detention.

The principal safety measures: a) probation; b) House arrest; and c) Semi-liberty (only the night is spent in prison). In addition to these penalties, which are inflicted as penal sanctions if a person is found guilty of a crime, the penal law provides for the imposition of safety measures, on socially dangerous individuals. According to the Penal Code, a person is socially dangerous if he or she has committed a crime and there is a strong likelihood that he or she will commit another crime in the future, given the characteristics of the offense and the offender. The concept of social dangerousness is based on the prediction of recidivism. Safety measures are also imposed on individuals who are not criminally liable, or if liable, are suspectible to lesser penalties because they were found totally or partially mentally incompetent at the time of the crime due to mental disease, chronic intoxication deriving from alcohol, or drug abuse or deaf-mutism. The Penal Law determines the minimum length of enforcement for each safety measure but not the maximum. Safety measures cannot be revoked unless the judge decides that the subjected person is no longer socially dangerous. There are generally three types of safety measures: custodial, non-custodial, and patrimonial. Custodial safety measures include confinement on a prison farm or labor facility, which is used mostly for persistent, habitual, or professional offenders and for offenders "prone to crime". It also includes compulsory hospitalization, and confinement in a reformatory for juvenile offenders. A non-custodial safety measure could mean being released under surveillance, where the judge prescribes a number of measures that the offender is required to follow. In addition, the offender may be prohibited to reside in certain municipal or provincial districts or to frequent pubs and other facilities in which alcoholic beverages are served. If the offender is an alien, he or she may be expelled from the country. Patrimonial or property safety measures include a process whereby the offender deposits a sum of money as a guarantee of good behavior throughout the application of a non-custodial safety measure. The security is returned if the offender does not commit a crime which requires arrest. If the offender does not deposit any security, the judge will substitute this measure with release under surveillance. Another patrimonial safety measure involves the seizure of property. After conviction, the judge may order that objects used for the commission of the crime or that constitute its product or profit must be confiscated. While technically, these safety measures are not penalties, but rather a protective device, they are subject to the general judicial principles which regulate penalties.

The death penalty is not allowed, except in case of war, under the military law.

Currently, the Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respects this provision. However, the judiciary's effort to provide citizens with a fair judicial process is complicated by long trial delays and the impact of organized crime on the criminal justice system.

There are three levels of courts. A single judge hears cases at the level of courts of first instance. At the second level, separate courts hear appeals for civil and penal cases. Decisions of the Court of Appeals can be appealed to the highest court, the Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) in Rome, but only for reasons related to correct application of the law, not to a case's merit.

Judges can either act as prosecuting attorneys or preside at trials. It is not unusual for judges to switch between these two functions over the course of their careers. When acting as prosecutors, judges can appeal verdicts, including sentences they deem too lenient. The Constitution imposes the obligation on judges to investigate reports of crimes. Nevertheless of almost 1.5 million crimes denounced in the first 6 months of the year, the responsible criminals were identified in only 300,000 cases.

The law provides for the right to fair and public trials, and the judiciary generally enforces this right. The law grants defendants the presumption of innocence. Defendants have access to an attorney sufficiently in advance to prepare a defense and can confront witnesses. All evidence held by prosecutors may be made available to defendants and their attorneys. Defendants may appeal verdicts to the highest appellate court. Trials were slow throughout the country.

Although some observers noted improvement, both domestic and European institutions continued to criticize the slow pace of justice in the country, which was due in part to cumbersome and frequently changing procedures, unclear or contradictory legal provisions, and an inadequate number of judges. As a result, perpetrators of some serious crimes avoid punishment due to trials that exceed the statute of limitations. In January the national newspaper Corriere della Sera reported that the average wait for a definitive verdict in a criminal case increased during 2000 to 1,792 days (approximately 5 years). In November 2000, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) handed down 233 adverse judgments against the country; this was more than half of the 421 verdicts issued during the year 2001 by the Courts. During the year 2001, the number of ECHR findings against the Government rose to 350. Several of the cases cited had been pending for more than 25 years. In 2000 the Court levied approximately $10 million (20 billion lire) in fines citing unreasonable time periods for adjudicating cases.

Excessive trial delays and Mafia influence on the judicial system marked the cases of several high-profile public figures. In June a Palermo appeals court convicted Supreme Court Judge Corrado Carnevale of collaborating with the Mafia and sentenced him to 6 years' imprisonment. Prosecutors alleged that beginning in 1986 he illicitly overturned more than 400 organized crime-related convictions. Carnevale's conviction depended in part upon testimony by pentiti who also testified against former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti in two separate trials. The courts absolved Andreotti in both cases, stating that prosecutors failed to produce concrete evidence backing up vague and contradictory testimony by the pentiti, but they also asserted that Andreotti had lied at the trials. Andreotti's trials ended with court criticisms of both the prosecution and defendants.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi continued to face trials associated with business activities that he had pursued before taking office in 1994; some of these cases were ongoing from previous years and some were new. Both Berlusconi and the prosecuting judges appealed the lower court verdicts with which they were dissatisfied, while other cases were dismissed because they had remained in the judicial process beyond the statute of limitations for the alleged crimes. Berlusconi attributed these cases to the leftist political agendas of some judges whose purpose allegedly was to reverse the results of the May elections. These judges and the political opposition, on the other hand, accused the Prime Minister of using his position to protect his legal and business interests. These same groups oppose Berlusconi's specific proposals for judicial reforms to separate the career paths of judges and prosecutors and to focus prosecutions on the most serious crimes.


Compensation for up to 100,000 USD is provided through a state fund for victims of organized crime or terrorism. A special compensation fund for victims of extortion has been established by the State. Victims who have suffered property damage from not complying with extortion requests (for example, if a store was bombed because of not paying racketeers) may be entitled to compensation through a state fund. The fund is administered by a state controlled insurance company (INA, Istituto Nazionale delle Assicurazioni) and is under the supervision of the Minister of Industry and Trade. Compensation for needy victims of crime is also provided by the Department of Prisons with money coming from private donations and from a 30% deduction of the pay received by convicted working prisoners. Victims can be compensated for any kind of damage they have suffered, whether it be moral, medical, mental, or property. Offenders are obliged to give restitution and pay for damages they may have caused to the victim(s). A law also provides for the granting of free legal aid to needy victims.

Victims have the right to be informed about judicial proceeding developments, to produce evidence at any stage of criminal prosecution, to oppose the request by the Judge for the Preliminary Investigation, for dismissal of the case, and to designate defending counsel to protect their rights. Victims' assistance associations (environmentalist associations) can join the victim at trial with the victim's consent.

Prosecutors and defending counsel play two distinct roles to protect the victims' rights. Prosecutors do not directly protect victims' rights since their main intent is to protect the public interest by seeking prosecution against alleged offenders. However, they indirectly protect victims' rights in that, if defendants are convicted, victims are entitled to compensation. Victims' defending counsel, on the other hand, are directly in charge of protecting the rights of victims. Alleged offenders' defense attorneys do not protect victims' interests, but rather, seek acquittal for their clients.

Crime victims can claim compensation for damages incurred during the trial stage under the Penal Code and the new Code of Penal Procedure


As of July 16, 1992, there were 154 district facilities for male prisoners awaiting trial and 6 female facilities. There were 27 penitentiaries for convicted male prisoners serving a sentence and 2 female penitentiaries. There were also 2 facilities for working prisoners serving for safety measures, 2 mental hospitals for offenders, 1 semi-custody facility in which only the night is spent in custody, 1 national facility where prisoners under psyhcological observation participate in re-education and rehabilitation programms, and 4 prison facilities for drug addicts.

In 1987, the total number of prison beds was 36,776. The total number of prison beds in juvenile facilities was 827. (In 1986, the total number of prison beds was 36,053. The total number of prison beds in juvenile facilities was 705.)

As of July 16, 1992, the annual average population of prisoners was 44,133, while the Italian prison capacity was 33,883 inmates. (The annual average population of prisoners for prior years: 31,170 (November 30, 1991); 31,676 (1990); 35,187 (1989); 35,222 (1988); and 33,865 (1987), while the Italian prison capacity was at 30,986 (November 30, 1991); 29,836 (1990); 29,779 (1989); 29,560 (1988); and 39,139 (1987). The decrease in prison capacity between 1987 and 1988 is partly due to the suppression of a number of prison facilities, but mostly due to the redefinition of the standards of capacity provided by the Ministry of Health.

On December 31, 1992, there were 47,316 prisoners, of which 44,748 were male and 2,568 were female. (The total number of prisoners for prior years: 35,469 (male=33,577; female=1,892) (1991); 25,931 (male=24,568; female=1,363) (1990), 30,680 (male=29,270; female=1,410) (1989), 31,382 (male=29,800; female=1,582) (1988), and 31,773 (male=30,183; female=1,590) (1987).)

In 1992, there were a total of 93,774 admissions into Italian prisons. In 1991, there were 80,234 admissions, of which 74,355 were male and 5,879 were female. (The number of admissions for prior years: 57,738 (male=53,307; female=4,431) (1990); 83,600 (male=76,715; female=6,885) (1989), (male=81,757; female=7,984) (1988), and 85,875 (male=78,544; female=7,331) (1987).)

All prisons are administrated by the State. The General Direction for Prevention and Penalty Institutes (Direzione Generale degli Instituti di Prevenzione e Pena) is a state agency, under the authority of the Ministry of Justice whose head is usually a judge.

There are a total of 28,721 penitentiary police (prison guards), of which 751 are marshals, 2,034 are sergeants and vice-sergeants, and 25,936 are guards.

Total prison system expenditures include personnel salaries, functioning expenses such as goods and services for the sustenance of the inmates, and ordinary maintenance of the buildings. It does not include the costs of the penitentiary building. The total expenditure for 1991 was 2,277,791 million lire, while the average daily cost per prisoner was 200,212 lire. (In 1990, expenditures totalled 1,994,197 million lire, while the average daily cost per prisoner was 172,477 lire.)

There are instances in which a prisoner may get time off for good behavior or parole. A convicted prisoner who participates in a re-education program is entitled to early release from prison amounting to a reduction of the length of imprisonment equivalent to 45 days for each 6-month period spent in prison. For example, a 5-year prison sentence would allow for a maximum reduction of about 15 months, resulting in 3 years and 9 months of actual time served. A convicted prisoner who has served part of the prison sentence and whose behavior is such that one can regard him as reformed, can be released under a number of specific conditions which, for serious crimes, are very strict.

Inmates are required to work. However, prison work is not considered forced labor and it is remunerated. Under certain conditions, working outside the prison is permitted. Prisoners may also attend classes. Specific provisions have been established in order to facilitate university studies.

Visits are allowed on a weekly basis. Inmates are allowed to communicate by telegraph, in writing (and by phone with some restictions). They can also participate in group therapy and educational/vocational programs. Medical and psychological assistance is provided by law and takes place according to the specific conditions of prison facilities.

By year 2001, overcrowded and antiquated prisons continued to be problems. The prison system has a capacity of 42,775 but holds almost 58,000 detainees. Older facilities tend to lack outdoor or exercise space, compounding the difficulties of close quarters. Approximately 54 percent of detainees are serving sentences; the other 46 percent consist mainly of persons awaiting trial or the outcome of an appeal. One in four inmates is a foreigner, but in some prisons, foreigners outnumber Italian citizens. Nearly one in three prisoners has been jailed for a drug violation. Almost 10 percent of drug users are HIV positive. Over 100 prisoners died while in jail in 2000; 56 committed suicide, with an additional reported 839 unsuccessful suicide attempts and approximately 5,800 acts of self-mutilation.

Men are held separately from women, and juveniles are held separately from adults; however, pretrial detainees are not held separately from convicted prisoners.

The Government permits visits by independent human rights organizations, parliamentarians, and the media. Amnesty International, the U.N. Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), the U.N. Committee Against Torture, and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture regularly assess the country's judicial and prison system. The nongovernmental organization (NGO) Antigone, which is composed mainly of lawyers, magistrates, and academics, promotes the rights of detainees, works closely with the European Commission for Prevention of Torture, and monitors the prison system.


As of year 2001, violence against women remained a problem. A 1998 ISTAT survey reported that at least 9.4 million women between the ages of 14 and 59 had experienced some form of sexual violence during their lives. The NGO Telefono Rosa, which provides a hot line through which abused women may obtain legal, medical, and other assistance, reported that nearly half of all complaints it receives nationally involve physical violence, much of it within the home. In 55 percent of these cases, husbands are the responsible parties, and in 10 percent of the cases, ex-husbands are responsible.

Legislation protects women from physical abuse, including by family members, allows for the prosecution of perpetrators of violence against women, and shields women who have been objects of attack from publicity. The law treats spousal rape in the same manner as any other rape. Law enforcement and judicial authorities are not reluctant to prosecute perpetrators of violence against women, but victims sometimes do not press charges due to fear, shame, or ignorance of the law. According to Telephono Rosa, approximately 3 out of 4 women who experience violence decline to report it to the authorities. However, Telefono Rosa also notes that the entry of more women into the police force has contributed greatly to a willingness of female victims of violence to cooperate with police. Acting on behalf of local government administrations, 66 local women's associations maintain and run shelters for battered women.

In 1999 the Labor Ministry and major trade union confederations agreed on a code of conduct regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. The code, which follows an EU recommendation, is attached to national sectoral labor contracts as they are negotiated. Telefono Rosa reports that previous ad hoc sexual harassment provisions in labor contracts have worked as a deterrent to workplace harassment both in the public and private sectors.

Trafficking of women into the country for prostitution was a growing problem.


The abuse of children is a problem; from July 2000 to June 2001, the NGO Telefono Azzurro received 480,000 calls related to child abuse. It is estimated that 60 percent of violence against minors is committed within the home. According to a survey by Telefono Azzuro, nearly 2 out of 3 cases involve sexual violence, for which fathers are responsible 32 percent of the time; mothers are responsible 4.3 percent, relatives 21.1 percent, and friends 21.2 percent. Both public and private social workers counsel abused children and are authorized to take action to protect them. Telefono Azzurro maintains two toll-free hot lines for reporting incidents of child abuse. Research conducted in 2000 on behalf of the Government by a private institute estimated that the number of minors involved in cases of violence (including prostitution) to be between 10,000 and 12,000. There are between 1,880 and 2,500 minors who work as street prostitutes, of whom 1,500 to 2,300 were trafficked into the country and forced into prostitution. The domestic NGO Social Service International assists in repatriating unaccompanied immigrant minors. In August the NGO Telefono Arcobaleno discovered 2 pedophile websites with photos of 23 children between the ages of 9 months and 2 years being raped or otherwise abused. Since June 1997 Telefono Arcobaleno has reported the existence of some 30,000 pedophile websites. Since 1999, 592 persons have been prosecuted under the law.

The law provides for the protection of children and there are several government programs to enhance the protection available for minors. The law prohibits pedophilia, child pornography, the possession of pornographic material involving children, sex tourism involving minors, and trafficking in children. The law provides for an information gathering network to collect data on the condition of minors, and there is a legally mandated office in the Ministry of Labor and Welfare that protects the rights of unaccompanied immigrant minors. There are minors offices staffed by trained police (often women) in police stations around the country to offer emergency help for minors and families in distress, as well as advise in dealing with other government social and judicial entities. The law established a special police unit to monitor and prosecute Internet sites devoted to promoting pedophilia.


The law does not specifically address trafficking in persons, although trafficking may be prosecuted under other laws and articles of the Penal Code; trafficking in persons for prostitution and forced labor is a growing problem. Some government visa operations are under investigation for visa fraud in connection with trafficking.

Italy is primarily a destination country for trafficked persons, primarily women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation, but also some men and boys trafficked for forced labor. Persons are trafficked primarily from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, particularly from Albania, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslav republics, Ukraine, and Moldova; Nigeria; South America, particularly Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia; and to a lesser extent Asia, particularly China. There were unconfirmed reports that an estimated 3,500 trafficked women were in Italy and that approximately 2000 persons are trafficked each year. Italy also is a transit point for traffickers, who arrive primarily by boat or airplane, with ultimate destinations in other Western or Northern European countries.

Organized criminal groups, both large and small, are behind most trafficking in the country, particularly from Albania. Victims of trafficking often are forced into prostitution, into working in restaurants, or begging on the streets. Traffickers enforce compliance by taking their victims' documents, beating and raping them, threatening their families, and frightening them with voodoo rites. Some trafficked women have been killed. Women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation are monitored closely and often kept under guard in apartments when not working. Some of those who end up in servitude, particularly Chinese persons headed for the Florence area, come to Italy willingly, believing they will be receiving a certain salary or working under decent conditions; however, they are exploited by those who loaned them money for the trip, and they end up working 18-hour shifts, sometimes living and working in the same place. Leather, fur, and textile industries attract many of the illegal workers.

Trafficking in children for sweatshop labor is a particular problem in Tuscany's expanding Chinese immigrant community, where children are considered to be part of the family "production unit."

There have been press reports that Italian government officials working in several countries in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America (particularly Ethiopia and Cuba) were being investigated for visa fraud in connection with bribery, abuse of authority, and trafficking; the investigation continued at year's end 2001.

While there is no law that specifically prohibits trafficking in persons, other laws used to prosecute traffickers include laws prohibiting the exploitation of prostitution (the so-called Merlin law), slavery, sexual violence, kidnapping, and assisting the entry of illegal migrants. Cases prosecuted for reduction into slavery can bring penalties of up to 20 years, but such cases usually are used only for minors because of the difficulty under the law of proving slavery for adults. Penalties for infractions of the Merlin law include 6 years' imprisonment and fines of up to $10,000 (approximately 20 million lire). The law contains provisions on the exploitation of prostitution, pornography, and sexual tourism to the detriment of minors with penalties of up to 20 years' imprisonment.

The Government has investigated and prosecuted many cases against traffickers using these laws, primarily the Merlin law. Some prosecutions resulted in convictions. The Government also has cooperated with foreign governments investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases. In May the Government signed a bilateral agreement with China to combat alien smuggling, including trafficking in persons.

The Government devotes significant law enforcement and other resources to combat trafficking. The Minister of Equal Opportunity leads an intergovernmental committee charged with monitoring trafficking and coordinating government activity to combat it. Other members include the Ministries of Labor and Welfare, Justice, Interior, and Foreign Affairs, as well as a special anti-Mafia prosecutorial unit. The Ministry of the Interior has begun special training programs to sensitize police to the problem of trafficking, the differences between trafficking and illegal immigration, the need to treat victims like victims, and the special skills needed to investigate cases. There are more than 85 police officers who specialize in handling trafficking cases.

The Government has sponsored awareness campaigns on trafficking in the country, including a 3-month television campaign focused on showing victims ways to escape traffickers. The television spots depicted the violence directed towards victims and explained the options available to them in Italy. The Government also sponsored an information campaign conducted by the International Organization for Migration in Albania that includes brochures, television, and radio spots aimed at potential victims. It has also provided funding for information campaigns conducted by the EU in Poland and Ukraine. In May 2000, the NGO End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking (ECPAT) and components of the tourism industry (tour companies, travel agents, computer reservation system personnel, airline companies, airport authorities, and trade unions) initiated a voluntary code of conduct designed to impede sex tourism.

While most prostitution involves women fleeing economic destitution in their home countries, those who are trafficked forcibly often are unable or reluctant to contact the police for help. The immigration law provides temporary residence and work permits to victims who seek to escape their traffickers. The legislation permits a temporary stay for victims, even if the victims refuse to file charges against their traffickers. During this time, victims are provided with shelter, benefits, and services such as counseling and medical assistance, in cooperation with NGO's. They also may be permitted to work or study. If the victim agrees to cooperate with law enforcement and judicial authorities, the residence permit and services are extended for the length of the criminal proceedings. However, some victims still are deported, particularly Nigerian prostitutes, although such deportations have decreased. In July 2000, the Government set up a toll-free telephone number to help victims take advantage of this program. As a result of these and related policies, there reportedly has been a significant increase in witness testimony and the successful prosecution of traffickers was reported.

The Government works closely with NGO's and other organizations in fighting trafficking. Major secular and Catholic NGO's concerned with trafficking, among which Parsec--a social research institute--and Caritas are the most active, cooperate closely with the Government. In conjunction with other concerned NGO's ECPAT has worked to ensure that police treat juvenile prostitutes as victims of trafficking, not criminals.


The Government of Italy (GOI) is firmly committed to the fight against drug trafficking. Italian organized crime groups continue to be involved in international drug trafficking and money laundering. The collapse of the former Soviet Union and turmoil in the former Yugoslavia has strengthened links between Italian organized crime and Russian and Albanian counterparts. GOI cooperation with U.S. law enforcement agencies continues to be exemplary, and major Italian organized crime fugitives were arrested in 1998. Italy is a party to the 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. Italy is not a drug producing country. There is no indication that there are heroin processing laboratories in Italy now. The last time a heroin processing laboratory was discovered was in 1985, and the last time locally produced heroin was seized was in 1987. Although there are no cocaine laboratories in Italy, Colombians and Italians have jointly set up cocaine refining sites. Cocaine paste or cocaine impregnated tapestry is imported into Italy and cocaine HCL is obtained from it.

Possession of small amounts of illegal drugs is not a criminal offense in Italy. Although polls indicate that 70 percent of the population is opposed to the legalization of drugs, the Italian Radical Party has proposed legislation to legalize drugs such as hashish and marijuana. Italy continues to promote the Teledrug system (a "real time" system facilitating sharing of drug intelligence information among nations) in which 13 countries participate. Italy has asked the United States to participate in this system. The Central Counterdrug Agency provides training in Italy for Italian and foreign officers, such as Russians and Albanians. As of September 1998, the agency had drug liaison officers in 18 countries. Italy is a major contributor to the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) based in Vienna and contributed approximately $9 million in 1998 to UN programs to combat illegal drugs and crime.

Several major organized crime figures were arrested in 1998.

The GOI devotes extraordinary resources to the fight against drug trafficking. The fight against drugs has been a priority in the organizational restructuring of all police services underway in recent months. There is no indication of drug-related corruption in the GOI.

Italy is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Both Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties are in place between Italy and the U.S. Italy is a member of the Italian-American-Canadian-French working group, as well as the bilateral Italian-American working group. As a member of the European community, Italy participates in the Dublin Group, UNDCP, Pompidou Group, EUROPOL, and EU Cabinet and attendant committees and working groups.

There is no known coca bush in Italy. However, some opium poppy grows spontaneously in the southern part of Italy and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. Its alkaloid content, however, is minimal and does not present a real threat. Although small amounts of home-grown marijuana are cultivated in southern Italy, its THC content is so low that it can only be marketed locally.

Italy is a consumer and transshipment country. It is a major transit point for heroin coming from southwest Asia destined to other European nations. The "Balkan Route" is still a heavily utilized shipping route and political turmoil in Balkan countries detoured shipments of drugs through Italy, as indicated by an increased seizure rate of heroin for 1998. The flow of cocaine into Italy remains steady. It is transported by boat from South America as well as by land from major European ports. Cannabis seizures decreased slightly in 1998. Although not indicated in seizure statistics, Italian authorities report an increasing use of ecstasy, which comes mostly from other western European countries, such as the Netherlands.

The GOI is working on implementation of the DARE program. As of December 31, 1997, Italy had 552 public health departments, operated by the Ministry of Health, which assisted 94,955 patients (80,897 male and 14,058 female). Of this number, 40,864 receive drug substitutes in an effort to treat their addictions (these statistics are based on data submitted by 517 of the 552 departments). In addition, there are 1,348 social rehabilitation centers operated with different levels of government funding, which assist a total of 22,176 patients (these statistics are based on data submitted by 1,253 of the 1,348 centers).

The U.S. and Italy continue to enjoy exemplary cooperation on counternarcotics efforts. U.S. and Italian law enforcement authorities continue to carry out numerous joint operations against drug traffickers, money launderers, and organized crime. Cooperation on extradition and mutual legal assistance is generally very good.

The U.S. will continue to work closely with Italy on law enforcement operations and investigations targeting international narcotics trafficking networks and organized crime.


Internet research assisted by Jeff Wolman

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