The Italian context
Italy has not an official definition of hate crime, but there are some different laws that punish racist discriminations and hate crimes. The Italian penal legislation against hate crimes is based on the following laws:
– Law 11 March 1952 n. 153
– Law 9 October 1967 n. 962
– Law 13 October 1975 n. 654
– Law 25 June 1993 n.205 (so called Mancino Law)
– Law 24 February 2006, n. 85.
The current legislation punishes propaganda, instigation (not incitement) to hatred and violence for racial, ethnic, national or religious reasons.
The “Mancino law” constitutes a real turning point compared to the previous legislation. Article 1 of this law has introduced in the Italian legal system autonomous particular cases of racist crime:
a) The racist propaganda;
b) The instigation to racial discriminations and acts of violence against people belonging to a different national, ethnic, “racial” or religious group;
c) Acts of violence against these parties;
d) The establishment of associations and organizations with the purpose of inciting hatred or racial discriminations.
The main criticality of our penal legislation against hate crimes is its insufficient effective implementation.
With the Law n. 85/2006, the present Italian legislation punishes not “inciting” but “instigating” and public condoning of crime of genocide (Art. 8 Law n.962/67); instigating acts of physical violence or discrimination on a “racial”, ethnic, national or religious basis; the establishment of organizations, associations, movements or groups which have among their purposes instigation to “racial”, ethnic, national or religious discrimination or violence. The legislation recognizes race, nationality, ethnic origin and religion as “protected characteristics”, to justify the enhancement of the penalty/additional aggravating circumstances. There’s not a recognition of “gender” as a “protected characteristics” in the italian legislation, and the same situation is referred to “disability”.
Odhir documented 56 hate crimes in 2010, 68 in 2011, 71 in 2012 and 472 in 2013. Data have been provided by Oscad, the Observatory for security against acts of discrimination, established on 2010 by the Ministry of Interior’s Department of Public Security.
It is important to underline that in Italy there isn’t any institution officially in charge of collecting data specifically on hate crimes, and that Oscad is not collecting data by researching on the ground or looking for hate crimes and violent discriminatory acts. Furthermore, under no circumstances reporting to Oscad replaces a formal complaint with the police authorities or an emergency call.
There are other two institutional sources of information who do not produce data specifically on hate crimes but whose data-base include relevant information on the topic.
They are the National Institute for Statistics (ISTAT) and the Ministry of Justice, who collect general data about all the denounces, investigations, legal prosecutions and judgments carried out by Italian police forces and courts. These source of data are very problematic for different reasons. First of all they are based on the law, and, given that actual regulation do not prosecute hate crimes for sexual orientation, these hate crimes are not accounted. Following, within these data it is not possible to distinguish the different motivations and the vulnerable groups involved. We have also problems concerning the collection of data in Italian juridical system, because the Minister cannot oblige all of the local district attorney’s office (Procure) to collect and show data in the very same way or for the similar purposes. Furthermore, there is not the possibility to follow the single case through the different ranks of judgment, and the very same case can be counted more than one time, because it appears in the different phases of prosecution.
Civil society and victims of hate crimes: what kind of relationship?
There are in Italy many civil society organizations actives in human rights protection, fighting against discriminations and racism, against homophobia and antiziganism (more than 700 the organizations registered by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry involved in immigration intervention).
The cooperation among autochthones civil society organizations and immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees is developed at local level and is mainly related to social service supply: nationals and immigrants/refugees cooperate in many sectors like legal, medical and accommodation services. The problem is that immigrants and refugees are involved mainly with executive functions, rarely in designing and planning activities.
Generally speaking, hate crimes victims support is very weak in Italy. The absence of a national, official and shared definition of “hate crime” and “risks” connected to the promotion of a criminal case does not favour this kind of intervention. The LGBTs organizations have the best concrete experience (legal and social aid) in this field in comparison with organizations working with other potential victims of hate crimes.
CSOs engaged in fight against discriminations and racism of immigrants and refugees are mainly involved in monitoring, reporting and advocacy, while services supporting victims are not developed on a systematic way.
Some examples of recent hate crimes