eleccions 2013: SOS Amnesty for Italy

Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty


Dear Rafael,
Any “democratic” state is running the risk of failure when the Rule of Law is endangered. If only we managed to raise your awareness of how the Italian State has exposed its own citizens to this tragic risk, we could alert the international public opinion against this danger. In consequence, all of us would be better prepared.

It is for this reason that we ask you a few minutes of your time to read this appeal.

Italy escaped Fascism 70 years ago. It is a founding member of the European Union. It is considered a “consolidated democracy”. Yet Italy is poised to diffuse throughout the world, for the second time in a century, a new “contagion” of anti-democracy, a massacre of the Rule of Law, and with it, a massacre of people. In the document below, we have tried to summarize the criminal way in which the Italian State “manages” justice, with its devastating consequences on the economic development and the lives (or deaths) of its citizens. The prisons are the clearest manifestation of this criminal condition. Now our campaign shifts up a gear with a political-electoral proposal for an amnesty to bring the Italian institutions back into legality.

We ask you to consider our arguments and to share your opinion with us in any case. We welcome your thoughts and comments, whether you disagree or, as we hope, you support the objective we propose. We look forward to hearing your views to this email address. Please do not hesitate to contact us for any clarification and/or discussion in further detail. Thank you for considering our proposal and all good wishes for 2013.

Sen. Emma Bonino, vice-president Italian Senate, former Minister and EU Commissioner

Hon. Maurizio Turco, MP, former MEP
Marco Cappato, Milan City Councillor, former MEP
Sen. Marco Perduca, former UN Representative
Hon. Matteo Mecacci, Chair OSCE PA on Human Rights
Sergio D'Elia, former MP, Secretary General Hands Off Cain
Dr. Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary General No Peace Without Justice


To bring to an end to the formal (and totally unchallenged) blatant criminal condition of the Italian State and to turn around the economic, social and civil decline of Italy.

(In)justice and the Italian Decline

A State without justice condemns its people and institutions to live in illegality. Today Italy is confronted with 10.8 million proceedings and pending cases (one for every 5.6 inhabitants); 160,000 criminal proceedings are annulled each year because they have exceeded the statute of limitation (between 1996 and 2008 2,058,058 proceedings were thus annulled, for a cost of 84 Million Euro per year); 90 to 95 % of crimes remain unpunished. In 2005, Alvaro Gil-Robles, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, estimated that “about 30% of the Italian population was awaiting a judicial decision”.
In his annual address, the then President of the National Bank of Italy, Mario Draghi, stated that: “Our estimates indicate a yearly loss of 1% of GDP due to the defects of our civil justice” (Bankitalia, 31 May 2011). On 23 August 2012, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Nils Muiznieks, wrote “many, among which the Justice Minister, reported that the inefficiency of civil justice could reduce the estimated annual growth of Italy’s GDP by 1%”. This quantification of 1% of GDP lost due to the extended duration of civil justice is yet again confirmed by the report “Doing Business 2012” (World Bank), where Italy is ranked 158 out of 183 countries for duration and efficiency in the resolution of civil contracts. Reclaiming a debt in Italy takes an average of 1210 days, 331 in France and 300 in the USA.
The Research Unit of the Confederation of Italian Employers (Confindustria) estimated in 2011 that catching up with the enormous backlog of judicial proceedings would yield 4,9% of GDP to the Italian economy. Even lowering the trial resolution times by a mere 10% would contribute by 0,8% to the yearly GDP. Note, incidentally, that the cause for this situation is not linked to scarcity of resources, since Italy’s spending on justice is the second highest in Europe, after Germany. All the recent reforms voted by the Italian Parliament (from the labour market reforms to the new law against corruption) are put in jeopardy by the chronic paralysis of the courts.

Where The Italian Plague Has Already Killed: The Prisons

On 31 October 2012 there were 66,685 detainees in Italy, 22,000 more than the total legal capacity of prisons. About 40.1% of the detainees are awaiting a final sentence. The overcrowding rate is 152,5% (the European average is 99,6%).
The situation of the Italian prisons was declared “unconstitutional” by Justice Minister Angelino Alfano (15 March 2009) and on 13 January 2010 the Government declared a state of emergency. “[This is] a reality that humiliates us in Europe”, President of the Republic Napolitano said in July 2011. In Italy people die because of prison: according to the research institute Ristretti Orizzonti, between 1990 and 2012, 1120 committed suicide behind bars, 18,164 attempted to do so, while there were 116,570 acts of self-inflicted harm. Over the last 20 years, there has been an average of 1 suicide per 989 detainees. The suicide rate in prison is almost 20 times higher than outside.

Italy: Europe’s Professional Criminal

Italy is among the most frequently condemned countries by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECtHR) for violations of the European Convention on Human Rights and in particular of its article 6, which requires Member States to guarantee a reasonable duration of trials. Italy accounts for no less than 37% of all sentences by the Court for the inefficiency justice. In 2009, Italy was condemned 61 times: more than any other West European State. On 31 December 2009, 7158 Italian cases were pending before the Court, 6% of the total of pending cases (only Russia, Turkey, Romania and Ukraine have larger numbers). Of those cases, 2889 are requests on the excessive duration of trials. In 2010, the damages paid by the Italian State for excessive duration of trials have exceeded 300 million Euros.
Furthermore, Italy is the State with the highest number of non-executed sentences by the same Strasbourg Court: 2467 of a total of 3544 cases are pending before the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. In March 2009, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe called upon Italy to resolve the structural problem of excessive duration of judicial proceedings in civil, penal and administrative justice. The last time the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe called on Italy to change was 13 March 2012, when it noted that “the situation concerning the excessive duration of trials and the malfunctioning of the existing remedy (Pinto act) remains of extremely high concern and requires the urgent adoption of large-scale measures to resolve the problem”. According to the Committee of Ministers, the functioning of the Italian justice system constitutes “a grave danger to the rule of law because it entails the negation of the rights enshrined in the Eu ropean Convention on Human Rights, and poses a serious threat to the efficacy of the system underlying the same Convention”.


A structural problem requires a structural solution. Unless we accept that the Italian State carries on with the violation of international and internal rules, this solution needs to be immediate. The only solution with these characteristics is an amnesty law, the cancellation of almost all judicial proceedings. This would allow for a re-organization of the judicial system, while at the same time focusing on sentencing the gravest crimes in reasonable time. Such an amnesty would allow the political system to bring about the necessary legislative reforms, such as de-criminalisation of certain crimes caused by migration and drugs consumption, as almost unanimously requested by the highest institutions of the State.
On 25 December 2005, we organized a mass Christmas Rally for Amnesty, Justice, Freedom. Former Presidents of the Council of Ministers Giulio Andreotti and Massimo D’Alema, the former President of the Republic Francesco Cossiga, as well as the current President of the Republic, then MP Giorgio Napolitano, sat on the committee promoting the rally. Other national figures endorsed the initiative, such as Senators for life Emilio Colombo, Rita Levi Montalcini and Sergio Pininfarina, and two Presidents emeritus of the Constitutional Court: Giuliano Vassalli and Antonio Baldassarre. On Easter and on 25 April 2012, two other rallies brought again the urgency of amnesty onto the streets.
“[...] This overt, habitual, blatant violation of the Constitution needs to be stopped immediately, with deflationary measures capable of creating the preconditions for adequate regulatory reforms. These instruments exist, they are provided for by the Constitution under the names of amnesty and pardon. These two words are now banned from the political vocabulary.” This appeal was signed by 130 constitutionalists and lawyers. It was sent to Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano in June 2012, arguing for an amnesty, accompanied by a pardon measure, “to restore the right – recognized by the Constitution and the ECtHR – to a reasonable duration of trials [...] to re-establish the principle of equality during criminal proceedings, [...] for a re-organization of the courts and a redistribution of the workload between civil and criminal justice”, and, lastly “for its deflationary effect of prisons”.

An Electoral List for Amnesty, Justice, Freedom

In order to rescue the amnesty not only from its “ban from the current political vocabulary” – as written by the 130 lawyers – but to put it directly at the heart of the electoral debate, the leader of the Radical Party Marco Pannella, during a dramatic nonviolent initiative of total hunger and thirst strike initiated on 10 December 2012 at midnight, launched the proposal for a “List for Amnesty, Justice and Freedom” for the February Italian elections. The aim in this list is to  interrupt the blatant criminal condition of the Italian State, and to reverse the process of economic, social and civil decline in Italy.

Several representatives of civil society organizations, journalists, University Professors, Priests, especially those active within the prison system have announced their availability of being part of the "List for Amnesty, Justice and Freedom".

We urge everyone reading this appeal to support this initiative in any possible way.

In the past few years, particularly during the past 24 months, there has been extraordinary and massive support within the prison community for the nonviolent initiatives of Marco Pannella. Tens of thousands of detainees, hundreds of penitentiary agents, psychologists, educators, administrative personnel, chaplains, volunteers, lawyers of all Bar Associations as well as Directors of prisons, have carried out multiple days of hunger strike in support of the different phases of the nonviolent actions by Marco Pannella and other members of the Nonviolent Radical Party. The detainees have regained – also thanks to the radio programme “Radio Carcere” (Radio Prison) hosted by the Italian radio “Radio Radicale” – hope and “have become hope" for the restoration of legality in Italy. They have thus escaped the state of despair over the degrading conditions in which the State forces them to live. From 19 to 22 November of this year only, almost 30,000 detainees sig ned the forms submitted to Radio Radicale from over 80 Italian prisons, to join in for four days of nonviolent mobilization for prisoners’ right to vote and the amnesty.

The last months of the long mobilization for an Amnesty law in Italy:

10-25 December 2012: Marco Pannella in total hunger and thirst strike
9-11 December 2012: mobilization for Amnesty and Prisoners’ Right to Vote
19-22 November 2012: 4 days of mobilization for Prisoners’ Right to Vote and Amnesty
18-22 July 2012: 4 days of nonviolence, hunger strike and silence
25 April 2012: Second Rally for Amnesty in Rome, Justice and Freedom – massive participation
21February 2012: from north to south Italy: Radical counter-inauguration of the Judiciary Year 2012
20 September 2011: Marco Pannella restarts his thirst strike in view of the extraordinary session of the Senate convened to discuss the administration of Justice and the Prison situation
14 August 2011: thousands of people join a day of total hunger and thirst strike to convene an extraordinary Parliamentary session on Justice and Prisons
28-29 July 2011: Conference at the Italian Senate: “Justice! In the name of the Law and the People”
24 June 2011: Appeal in support of the nonviolent initiative of Marco Pannella endorsed by dozens legislators
21 June 2011: “If the public television (RAI, Radio Televisione Italiana) does not go to Pannella, Pannella goes to RAI!” Radical blitz with a double decker bus showing Pannella’s videomessage at  RAI Headquarters, via Teulada, Rome, the prison Regina Coeli in Rome and in front of the Ministry of Justice
09 June 2011: 13.000 individuals in hunger strike with Marco Pannella
18 May 2011: 20.000 approx detainees take part in a hunger strike