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Civic Nation Unity in Deversity

Application of Legislation, Criminal Cases, Court Rulings

Application of Legislation, Criminal Cases, Court Rulings

Generally, Italian authorities tend to adhere to such legislation. Moreover, in 2004 the National Office against Racial Discrimination (UNAR) was established. Its duties include aiding victims of discrimination, investigating discrimination complaints, promoting introduction of specific measures and regulations that could help compensate victims of ethnic and racial discrimination for their moral, financial, and physical damages, providing consulting on issues related to racial discrimination, ethnic discrimination, and equal rights, and, finally, evaluating existing anti-discrimination legislation and suggesting new legal projects.

UNAR provides annual reports containing recommendations for further advancement of the anti-discrimination and anti-xenophobia fight. In 2011, UNAR was also granted authority over cases involving discrimination against specific sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, or religious beliefs. However, it has no authority to incite legal proceedings, only provide consultative recommendations. In March 2015, UNAR conducted an educational campaign in schools and the media "Turn off discrimination, turn on the rights", aimed at promoting tolerance and combating discrimination and racism.

On August 6, 2015 Interior Minister Angelino Alfano ordered the immediate expulsion of a fundamentalist Imam Raud Abdelbara. Police said that the imam is a threat to national security.

Some extreme right demonstrations have been prohibited by local authorities (Vincenz, March 6 ; Venice, March 25 ). These bans, however, were most likely caused by threat of clashes with antifascists, rather than nationalist slogans themselves. On November 29, police in Milan officially warned organisers of Hammerfest rally that racist statements and actions are prohibited.

On the other hand, it was reported in 2014 that funds allocated to Roma integration in Rome were distributed among corrupt officials and mafia.

In 2015, a number of measures were adopted that limited the arbitrariness with regard to illegal migrants - control over places of shelter was introduced, pre-arrest of migrants was forbidden prior to the decision to deport them. A number of measures were also taken to integrate migrants at the local level. The fight against terrorism was entrusted to the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs against the Mafia, which was renamed the Department for Combating Mafia and Terrorism. A special department was also established to prevent hate crimes by the army and police - the Office for Control of Security and Acts of Discrimination.

Anti-terrorism legislation was also tightened up. It affected not only the fight against right-wing radicalism, but also Islamic extremism, especially with regard to the departure of citizens to the so-called Islamic State. Italy is not a popular target for Islamists – rather, it is used as a transit zone – and these measures have significantly improved the situation in the country.

There have been a number of violations of migration legislation in 2013. Human rights activists have on multiple occasions criticised Italy for cruelty towards refugees. The living conditions in the temporary refugee centre on Lampedusa Island are not consistent with European standards. After the video footage made in this refugee centre, which for many looked like a Nazi concentration camp”, was broadcasted in December 2013, European Commissioner on Internal Affairs, Anna Cecilia Malmström threatened to cut Italy’s funding that Europe provides for prevention of illegal immigration, while prosecutor’s office of Agrigento filed a “mistreatment of refugees” lawsuit.

Italy does not publish official hate crime statistics. In its 2012 report on the situation in Italy, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance pointed to an unsatisfactory situation with the registration of hate crimes. The European Commission expressed its discontent with the fact that Italy hardly maintains any statistics that could help estimate the total number of hate crimes, their clearance rate, compensations paid to the victims of racism and xenophobia, etc. Italy also has not provided any statistical data on the court rulings related to hate crime cases, as well as on compensations provided to the victims or racism and xenophobia. Members of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) report a very low number of investigations and convictions compared to the number of registered cases of discrimination and hate crimes.

After receiving the 2011 annual OSCE report on hate crimes in the region, Italy complained that it had not provided any information on the subject. As was learned from multiple practical examples, declining to provide statistical data on hate crimes both indirectly increases the number of such crimes and diminishes their clearance rate.

The Italian government is currently attempting to prevent from spreading - even if not full heartedly - any racist ideas that could affect the views and behaviour of large groups of people. Spreading propaganda on the Internet falls under that category.

At the same time, Italian legislation prohibits dissemination of racist ideas, albeit with reservations, ideas aimed at changing the mood of the general public. Online hate speech falls under this category. In 2013, law enforcement practice in this area showed positive dynamics. For example, on January 24, the Italian police conducted a special trial, during which ultra-right extremists suspected of propagating racial hatred and anti-Semitism were arrested in several cities of the country, as well as beating up a Jewish schoolchild. In April 2013, four people from the Internet group “Stormfront Italia” were convicted of promoting racist ideas on the Internet pages of the Italian office of the newspaper Stormfront. All four were arrested immediately after the closure of the website. Lately Italian courts have been issuing rather severe verdicts for as much as planning to carry out terrorist actions. For example, on May 19th the local court of Brescia city sentenced 22-year-old immigrant from Morocco, Mohammed Sermon, to 5 years and 4 months in prison for preparing a terrorist attack on the main Milan synagogue and on a Jewish school.

In 2013 Italian authorities conducted an entire series of activities aimed at preventing far-right extremists from taking action. Specifically, the annual neo-Nazi rock festival, which normally takes place in Cagliari every August, was banned. Everything mentioned above points to the fact that the views on hate crime in the country are starting to shift.

There have been a number of bans on far-right demonstrations in 2014 (Vincentza, March 6; Venice, March 25). However, this ban was not caused by the slogans of the demonstrators, but rather by fears of clashes with anti-fascists. On November 29, 2014, the Milan police headquarters officially warned the organizers of the Hammerfest rally to ban all statements and actions motivated by racial discrimination.

On January 9, three Casa Pound activists were sentenced to 1.5 years in prison for attacking an antifascist in Lecce. On January 31, the Court of Appeal in Bologna delivered its verdict in the case of eight Parma police officers, who mistakenly arrested and African student on charges of drug trafficking in September 2008. They were sentenced to 2 to 5 years in prison and 135 000 euros fine for police brutality during interrogations.

On June 19, a man who was sending pig heads to Rome synagogues and the Israeli Embassy was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

On July 11, a neo-Nazi who attacked a student in 2013 was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

On February 22, it was reported that a new trial has started on the case of Brescia terrorist attack in 1974.

In several cases, court compensated for unlawful actions of the police. On April 1, Tivoli court released antifascists who painted the monument of a fascist general.

On July 10, 60 antifascists who were protesting near the new office of Forza Nuova in 2009 have been acquitted. Law enforcement agencies have made several actions that can be seen as condoning xenophobia. On November 18, Rome Court of Appeal reduced the sentence for neo-Nazis from Stormfront Italia, saying that their website only contains propaganda.

On December 9, Varese City Court acquitted 22 “Nazi apologists”, who were accused of singing Nazi anthems on Hitler’s birthday. Court ruled that singing of Nazi songs is not justification of Nazism and does not provoke racial hatred.

In an attempt to control and contain hate crime and discrimination against immigrants and minorities, Italian police force (Carabinieri and State Police) established an Observatory for security against acts of discrimination (OSCAD) that is responsible for monitoring manifestations of discrimination, racism and hate crime.

There are no evidences in 2015 of police abuse or institutional racism against foreign nationals or local minorities during the monitored period, which was fairly common in 2014. Generally, we are observing a considerable improvement in law enforcement practice in Italy when it comes to observing and protecting minority rights.

For example, at the regional level (in Lazio, for example), the country started integrating migrants into the workplace. This is carried out through local authorities, which fund minimum wage salaries for new migrants. As a result, migrants are successfully adapting to their new lives and have additional means of sustenance.

Italy adopts a similar approach to Roma integration through the Programme to promote mutual understanding between the Roma and the Italian population, supported by the European Social Fund as part of the Europe 2020 plan. However, implementation of these projects is yet to bear any tangible results.

According to the report of the Italian secret services, in 2016, they actively monitored the activities on the Internet not only of Islamists, but also of such right and left radical groups as Casa Pound and its student association Blocco Studentesco; Blocco Lavoratori Unitario e Ambientalista; LFCA (La Foresta che Avanza); Forza Nuova; "National-revolutionary group" Militia ", Lotta Europea and Movimento Sociale per l'Europa.

In their estimation, right radicalism is gradually becoming one of Italy's most serious problems, since the number of young people in these organizations demonstrates the highest rates for the last 20 years. The Italian authorities explain this by increasing the number of immigrants arriving to the Italian shores, as well as uncertainty in the future and the financial and economic crisis that the country is experiencing.

It should also be added that Italy remains a transit zone for Islamist groups, and it is bypassed by a wave of terror unleashed by Islamic radicals in Europe.

At the same time, Italy has the most liberal anti-racist legislation. The country has not acceded to Article 4 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. It is extremely difficult to accuse people for the "language of enmity" by proving the intention to "change the behavior of a wide audience". Thus, the attention of the Italian authorities to the spread of hate on the Internet has not been transformed into legal persecution of extremists.

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