"No country can consider itself — or can ever remain — immune to the risk of institutional violence. Nobody can do this because torture is part of a democracy’s pathology. In order to be immune to it we have to call things by their proper name, without fear. Living in a strong democracy does not mean removing the issue — it means being able to take on the problem, recognizing it, and dealing with it." - Patrizio Gonnella, Antigone's president, interviewed by Vice
An essential right
The prohibition of torture is one of the most essential norms of the international community. Not only is torture banned by a plethora of human rights text, but it is also prohibited by international humanitarian law and defined as a crime against humanity by international criminal law. Furthermore, the prohibition is included as a peremptory norm (jus cogens) in international law — that is, a norm that no state may make exceptions to.
In other words, the ban on torture is maintained to be part of the most "central core of rights," to the point that one could easily say, "If anything is a human right, then it is the right not to be tortured."
Despite all the ink that has been spilled to unequivocally affirm the absolute prohibition on torture, it is still widely perpetrated all over the world — not only by totalitarian regimes, but also by "civilized" nations.
That is certainly true for Italy, whose cases of torture at the hands of its police continue to land before the judges in Strasbourg (see the famous Cestaro judgment and the two recent settlements in the cases of Asti's penitentiary and Bolzaneto's barracks).
And yet, despite the many attempts made over the years and the pressure exercised by civil society organizations such as Antigone, the umpteenth legal proposal on the introduction of the crime of torture is still far from approval, stuck in Parliament for months now.
Add your voice
This state of affairs can no longer be sustained. For way too long, Italy has been failing to fulfill its international and constitutional obligations on this fundamental issue. It is due time that the crime of torture is introduced in the Italian Criminal Code, finally putting an end to years of impunity.
The national petition launched by Antigone has reached almost 55,000 signatures.
Now we are asking the international community to join us in calling on the Italian Parliament to promptly approve the law making torture a crime. We need your support to ensure that our plea for justice gets heard!