Italian lawmakers on Wednesday finally passed a bill making torture a crime under national law, after years of parliamentary back-and-forth. Rome signed the UN Convention Against Torture in 1984 but had never transferred it into national legislation. Lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill that makes torture punishable by four to 10 years in prison — 12 for members of the security forces — with 198 backing the legislation, 35 opposing it and 104 abstaining.
Torture is defined under the law as “intense physical suffering or psychological trauma verifiably caused by violence, grave threats or cruel actions”. In 2015 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) blasted Italy for police violence against anti-globalization activists on the margins of a 2001 G8 summit in Genoa, judging that officers’ actions against protesters sheltering in a school were akin to torture.
Several members of the Italian security forces were convicted after the violence, but this did not include any officers who had been at the scene. The ECHR criticized this decision, saying it showed there was a “structural problem” with Italian legislation.