PRISONS: RIGHTS AND DIGNITY
Italy has been recently condemned by the European Court of Human Rights by the passing of a sentence dated 8th of January, for the living conditions in which prisoners are kept in Italian prisons (by violating Article 3 of the European Convention).
In the abovementioned sentence the Court of Strasbourg has condemned Italy for having subjected seven prisoners to inhuman and degrading conditions forcing them to share cells of nine square meters with two other prisoners and not providing them with daily access to showers, where there was often a lack of hot water. The Court, as well as having condemned Italy to compensate each claimant with 90 thousand euro, giving the Italian Government one year to solve the problem of prison overcrowding, through the introduction of appropriate measures to ensure an improvement in the prisoners living conditions.
The measures taken by the State Party or in any case the set of measures was supposed to be effective, that is, in accordance with the Convention, suitable to solve the highlighted problem by the European Court. Although indicating the means to achieve a result does not enter into the duty of the Court, in the judgment in question, the European Court considered it appropriate to indicate to our country some measures for the immediate resolution of the highlighted problem.
To date, shortly after this sentence was passed, a decree entitled “ Svuota Carceri” 2014 (empty prisons decree) has officially become state law. Here below are the most important innovations:
- The use of electronic bracelets will become the norm and from now on cases where they are not used will represent an exception, that the judicial authority will have to justify;
- The extenuating circumstance in minor crimes of illegal possession and sale of narcotics has become an separate crime. Also there is no longer the prohibition on therapeutic care offered by social services for alcohol and drugs addicts to dispose more than twice of the care offered. Minors who are drug addicts and have been accused of drug trafficking are subject to precautionary measures and will stay in a recovery center.
- The limit of punishment to ensure the measures with probation to the social services has been increased to 4 years, based on more rigid measures than in the past. The supervising judge has more powers than before, especially in terms of urgency and immediacy of intervention.
- Since December 24th, 2015, the granted penalty allowed has increased to 75 days per semester, instead of 45 previously in force. However for those who are convicted for mafia or other serious crimes are excluded;
- The provision that allows to serve house arrest not exceeding 18 months, is permanent;
- The expulsion of foreigners (as an alternative measure to detention) will be a simpler procedure, for all those who must serve two years of punishment, but also for those who are convicted of a crime provided for in the consolidated text relating to immigration, as long as the expected penalty would not exceed a maximum of 2 years, and also for those who are convicted of aggravated robbery or extortion. The identification procedures to give effect to the expulsion has also been modified in order to be effective upon arrest;
- A new position guaranteeing for the protection of detainees has been established, it will be based at the Ministry of Justice and will consists in 3 members in charge for 5 years which could be extendable. The task of the National Ombudsman will be to ensure the observance of human rights in prisons.
- It also has been introduced a procedure aimed to guarantee compliance with the decisions of the supervising judge by the prison administration.
Once again a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights has confirmed the inability of our state to ensure the fundamental rights of prisoners who are waiting for judgment or are serving a sentence . And once again the severe economic sanctions imposed on Italy affect the economy of the country, and instead of using the funds recovered from the payment of contributions paid by Italians citizens, these funds are used to pay as compensation for debts which Italy regularly runs up.Avv. Donatella SicomoCriminal Law DepartmentStudio Legale Internazionale Giambrone Law#EuropeanCourtofHumanRights #EuropeanConvention #CourtofStrasbourg #prisoners #italianprisons #inhumananddegrading
conditions #svuotacarceri #electronicbracelets #narcotics #housearrest #foreigners #economy