Rule of Law: the Italian judicial system promotes impunity

Rome – Brussels – New York 1 July 2014


Statement by Niccolò Figà-Talamanca and Antonella Casu, Secretary General and Treasurer of No Peace Without Justice
It took 14 years, lots of strength and expenditure of significant economic resources for Valentino Saba to have recognised, in Europe, those human rights that Italy denied to him. His legal nightmare began in 2000, after he and other detainees were beaten by prison police officers of the San Sebastiano prison of Sassari. The majority of the prosecutions against the officers involved were dismissed due to the unfair effects produced in the Italian judicial system by the statute of limitations. Far from fulfilling its function, which is at the core of its institutionalisation, the statute of limitations, combined with the extremely long duration of prosecutions in Italy, has now become an instrument to guarantee impunity for those who commit crimes and have adequate resources and legal assistance.
The detainee Valentino Saba had no other option but to apply to the European Court of Human Rights, which convicted Italy today for inhuman and degrading treatment. This sentence is only the latest of a long list of convictions against Italy for violations of Article 3 of the Convention. The Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty, Radicali Italiani and No Peace Without Justice supported Saba’s claims in front of the Court as “amicus curiae”.
On the first day of the Italian presidency term of the EU, the decision taken by the European Court restores dignity to justice, but at the same time emphasizes the disgrace to which the government led by Matteo Renzi continues to force Italy. How many years must pass before the Parliament decides to introduce the crime of torture within the penal code, in conformity with the commitments taken at the international level? How many lives must be lost before the institutions acknowledge and change the unjust situation, to which all those citizens deprived of the resources to defend themselves must compel? The Radicals have been criticizing the downfall of the judicial system for years now; however within the Government, declarations of principles continue to be preferred over structural measures.
Read also "Carceri. Radicali: Condanna per inumanità: è questo il volto che Renzi vuole presentare in Europa?” by Rita Bernardini and Irene Testa (in Italian).