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13/11/2017
Panoramic photo of the building headquarters of the European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg, France.
© Consiglio d'Europa

European Court of Human Rights: Italy condemned three times for inhumane and degrading treatment

With three sentences released on the 26th October 2017, the European Court of Human Rights at Strasburg condemned Italy for not satisfactorily fulfilling its international obligations with reference to the Blair and Others v. Italy (applications nos. 1442/14, 21319/14 and 21911/14) Azzolina and Others v. Italy (applications nos. 28923/09 and 67599/10) and Cirino and Renne v. Italia (application nos. 2539/13 and 4705/13).

In the first two cases, Blair and Others v. Italy and Azzolina and Others v. Italy, the court held that there had been a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The applicants had been arrested and taken to the Bolzaneto barracks between 20th and 22nd July 2001 during the Genoa G8 Summit protests. They were held there for one or two days before being transferred during which time they alleged to have been subjected to violence at the hands of the police and the medical staff. They 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 the ill-treatment suffered by the applicants was beyond doubt, (already established by the domestic courts) the extent of 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.

Regarding the third case, Cirino and Renne v. Italia, whose complaint concerned their ill-treatment and torture by prison officers at Asti Correctional Facility, the Court comdemned Italy again for the violation of Article 3 of the ECHR. The Court held that the ill-treatment inflicted on the applicants had amounted to torture as defined by United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. However, since Italy had failed to incorporate the offence of torture into national legislation, the court had to conclude that there was no provision under Italian law that would allow the conduct in question to be classified as torture. The Court held that Italy was to pay Mr Cirino and Mr Renne’s daughter (who continued the proceedings after Mr Renne's death in prison in January 2017) each 80,000 euros.

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