Martedì, 18 Settembre 2018
ROME

Napolitano gives ultimatum on prison overcrowding

English
© ANSA

(By Emily Backus)
Rome, December 4 - Italian President Giorgio
Napolitano on Wednesday called on parliament to clearly state
whether it would introduce a prisoner amnesty measure.
''Parliament must have the sense of responsibility
necessary to say that it wants to introduce a prisoner amnesty
measure'' or clearly state ''that it is not necessary'' despite
a condemnation by the European Court of Human Rights over prison
overcrowding, Napolitano said.
In May, the European Court of Human Rights ordered Italy to
make dramatic improvements to its prison system to stop
overcrowding and undo violations against prison rights.
That order gave Italy a deadline of May 20, 2014,
Napolitano said last October in a message to leaders in both
Italy's Senate and its Lower House demanding action.
The justice minister responded to the ultimatum saying a
packet of measures was almost ready for review by the cabinet.
''We will shortly bring before the cabinet a package of
measures on prisons and criminal and civil trials,'' Anna Maria
Cancellieri said at a conference in Rome on prisoner amnesty,
promoted by the Italian Senate human rights committee.
Cancellieri explained that her ministry planned to propose
measures that will ''reinforce the system of alternatives to
imprisonment'' including rehabilitation treatment for
drug-addicts and alcoholics, as well as expanded parole options
for a range of crimes.
Cancellieri stated that the possibility of serving
sentences at home - a measure due to expire December 31 - would
be made a permanent institution.
Expedited deportation of foreign detainees would also be
part of the bill.
Cancellieri added that an ''emergency measure'' would
create a ''national ombudsman for detainees'' which she
described as an independent, non-law-enforcement entity to
protect prisoner rights that would allow Italy ''to at least
partially comply with a precise international obligation...to
institute an independent authority to monitor'' places of
detention by spring.
Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso also assured the prisoner
amnesty conference in Rome that his office had been notified on
November 21 of an imminent bill to address the president's most
pressing penal concerns.
''This bill touches on various points highlighted by
President Napolitano that are dear to my heart, in particular
the introduction of non-jail sentences in the penal code and the
entire reform of the criminal system,'' said Grasso.
''I maintain that this package of legal measures will
contribute to the necessary de-crowding of prisons, but above
all it will keep the phenomenon from continuing to repeat
itself''.
Grasso blasted ''carcinogenic'' laws that ''create new
crimes and other convictions''.
Earlier this year, the Strasbourg court rejected Italy's
appeal against a sentence condemning Rome for the state of
Italian jails.
Italy had formally challenged the Strasbourg-based court
when it ordered Rome to correct the ''degrading and inhumane
conditions'' in its prisons and to pay 100,000 euros in damages
to seven inmates.
The country's prison conditions have long been the source
of criticism from human rights groups.

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