Tech & Rights

15 Years After Genoa G8, It's Still Too Early for Torture Crime

Italy still doesn't have the crime of torture in its criminal code, despite strong condemnation from courts and human rights activists for the severe abuses that occurred during the Genoa G8.

by Luana Ruscitti
Fifteen years ago, back in July 2001, the G8 summit was held in Genoa. It was a complete disaster for Italy. "The biggest suspension of democratic rights in a Western country since World War Two," was how Amnesty International described those days.

During three days of protests, serious clashes occurred and many people were brutalized by police violence. Then there was the brutal death of Carlo Giuliani, on July 20, caused by a bullet fired by a young police officer.

A death, a raid, a barracks of abuse

The day after Carlo Giuliani's death, police forces in anti-riot gear entered the Diaz school, where many activists and journalists were sleeping.

With incredible brutality, the police struck those present while they were sleeping, unarmed and unable to defend themselves. It was a real "Mexican butchery," in the words of one of the perpetrators of the violence.

The European Court of Human Rights condemned this as torture in a very harsh judgment against Italy rendered last year.

Italy is still waiting for the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the events that occurred in the Bolzaneto barracks — a place used during the Genoa G8 as a temporary prison where the police put the protesters who were arrested during the clashes.

Broken bones, humiliation, hours upon hours standing on feet, lying in their organic fluids, naked, prostrated, unarmed, in a black hole of suspended rights: that's what hundreds of protesters went through at the hands of police forces in Bolzaneto, according to the harsh sentences rendered by Italian judges.

To avoid another condemnation by the European Court of Human Rights, the Italian government recently proposed compensation of 45,000 euros for each instance of abuse that occurred in the Bolzaneto barracks. Notwithstanding what happens in Strasbourg, however, there will be no real justice for what happened in Genoa.

No crime of torture = no justice

There will be no justice because in Italy, even today, if there is not the crime of torture. Discussion of the law to introduce the crime of torture in the criminal code has been postponed due to pressure by right-wing political parties, which maintain that such a law would hamper the work of police and security forces in moments of severe crisis.

Civil society representatives have voiced deep concern about the decision to further delay the introduction of the crime of torture. Italy is already decades behind other countries in this regard, and severe abuses such as those perpetrated in Genoa have gone unpunished because there is no crime of torture.

How long will Italy have to wait for a fair justice?

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