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ECHR: Two findings of torture against Italy: Genoa G8 protest detainees and prisoners in Asti Correctional Facility
30.10.17
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Two seperate judgments handed down by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have found that Italian officials committed torture and that the authorities failed to investigate or punish the acts. One case concerns almost 60 people who were subject to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment at the hands of police and medical staff following the protests against the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001; the other concerns two prisoners who were placed in solitary confinement and beaten repeatedly by prison officers.

Genoa G8 detainees

See: Shortcomings in the official investigation into police violence against demonstrators who were held following the 2001 G8 Summit in Genoa (press release, pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgments1 in the cases of Blair and Others v. Italy (applications nos. 1442/14, 21319/14 and 21911/14) and Azzolina and Others v. Italy (applications nos. 28923/09 and 67599/10) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The cases concerned incidents following the G8 Summit in Genoa in 2001, when demonstrators were subjected to violence by law-enforcement officers while in detention. The applicants alleged that they had been subjected to torture and complained that the investigation by the domestic courts had been ineffective, in particular because the statute of limitations had been applied to virtually all the acts committed and because a number of those convicted had been granted a remission of their sentence.

The Court held, in particular, that the ill-treatment suffered by the applicants was beyond doubt, having been established in a detailed and thorough manner by the domestic courts. The applicants, who had been in a particularly vulnerable situation owing to their detention, had been subjected to physical, verbal and psychological abuse which in the Court’s view amounted to torture. Owing to the lack of an offence of torture in Italian law at the time of the events, virtually all the acts of violence had been statute-barred when the cases came to trial. Because of the application of the statute of limitations and the remissions of sentence granted to several of those convicted, none of the persons found to be responsible had received appropriate punishment. The Court therefore held that the applicants had not had the benefit of an effective official investigation."

See the judgments: Affair Azzolina et autres c. Italie and: Affaire Blair et autres c. Italie (French only, pdf)

See also: GENOA 2001: ECHR Press release: Police violence: Italian criminal law inadequate and not an effective deterrent (Statewatch News Online, April 2015)

Prisoners in Asti Correctional Facility

See: Prison officers responsible for torture of detainees unpunished due to lack of adequate legislation (press release, pdf)

"Prison officers responsible for torture of detainees unpunished due to lack of adequate legislation

The case of Cirino and Renne v. Italy (application nos. 2539/13 and 4705/13) concerned the complaint by two detainees that in December 2004 they were ill-treated by prison officers of the Asti Correctional Facility, and that those responsible were not appropriately punished.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

violations of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights, both as regards the treatment sustained by the applicants (substantive aspect) and as regards the response by the domestic authorities (procedural aspect).

The Court held that the ill-treatment inflicted on the applicants – which had been deliberate and carried out in a premeditated and organised manner while they were in the custody of prison officers – had amounted to torture.

In the Court’s view, the domestic courts had made a genuine effort to establish the facts and to identify the individuals responsible for the treatment inflicted on the applicants. However, those courts had concluded that, under Italian law in force at the time, there was no legal provision allowing them to classify the treatment in question as torture. They had had to turn to other provisions of the Criminal Code, which were subject to statutory limitation periods. As a result of this lacuna in the legal system, the domestic courts had been ill-equipped to ensure that treatment contrary to Article 3 perpetrated by State officials did not go unpunished."

Judgment: Case of Cirino and Renne v Italy (pdf)

And see: ECtHR finds Italy guilty of degrading treatment without adequate judicial remedy in mass prison beatings case (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico, August 2014

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