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Headquarters of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg (France).
© Consiglio d'Europa

Council of Europe: Commissioner for Human Rights urges Italian Parliament to adopt a law on torture which is fully compliant with international human rights standards

On the 16th June 2017, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Nils Muižnieks, sent a letter to all members of the Italian Parliament with which he expressed particular concern for the amendment of the law n. 2168-B. The law foresees the addition of the crime of torture into the Italian Penal Code and was approved by the Senate on the 17th May 2017, after almost thirty years after Italy's ratification of the UN Convention against Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

In the letter, the Commissioner highlights the difference between the text pending for examination in the Parliament and the International instruments such as CAT. He points out that, in the current draft, for torture to occur: multiple acts of serious violence or threats or cruelty may be required; torture might also be found when the behaviour in question amounts to both inhuman and degrading treatment; psychological torture is restricted to cases where psychological trauma is verifiable.

The Commissioner is particularly concerned about the definition of torture provided in the bill which may result in certain cases of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment remaining unaddressed and, therefore, create potential loopholes for impunity. He also underscores the need to prevent that a statute of limitations, or any other measures of clemency, amnesty, pardon or suspended sentences, undermine the authorities’ ability to hold those who commit these acts to account and the possibility for victims to obtain redress.

The Commissioner closes his letter encouraging all Members of Parliament to adopt a law on the crime of torture that is completely in line with International Human Rights Law.