Italy, february 2002




We receive by a lawyer from Rome and we publish with pleasure this contribution about the restructuring of the so-called anti-terrorism law.


In consequence of the cadre resolution of European Council about the struggle against terrorism (COM 2001 521), took (after the attempt at USA's centre) with the aim to harmonize the national law about this problem," for a most efficacious co-operation of police and judicial, towards the definition of constitutive elements and the indication of the size of sanctions to put on", Italian government first issued the law decree number 374 called "urgent provisions to fight international terrorism" then changed in law, the number 438 (15 December 2001).

The decree, which contains changes to the criminal code, first of all enlarges the figure of crime of subversive organization with terrorism purpose, that is the article 270 bis c.c., introducing a unique crime for internal and international subversion.Today the new article 270 bis provides for 5 to 10 years of jail for participation, from 7 to 15 years for formation, organization, direction and financing of organizations with purpose of terrorism (even international ), described as those organizations "which have the aim to damage a foreigner country, an international institution, with acts of violence".  The following article 270 ter c.c..introduced with this law, provides for the new and specific crime of assistance to associates, which punishes the hypotesis of help to members of the "terroristic/subversive" group out of cases of personal and real abetting and of complicity in the crime.  The fact of the attack against the "two towers" and the Pentagon has only speeded up a process of progressive elevation of international control, prevention, and repression threshold, and it has justified the introduction of crime figure thought to be necessary by many, because the article 270 bis c.c.  (subversive association with terroristic purpose), for constant jurisprudence, did not come out enforceable to organizations with the purpose of "subversion" of foreigner states.

In fact, in Italy all trials against supposed Islamic "terrorists", which were contested with the article 270 bis, are closed, with reference to this notification, or with a verdict of acquittal: from the trial of the Achille Lauro to the more recent discharge of 40 supposed members of the GIA (Islamic Armed Group)in November 2000 in Bologna; or through an amendment of the charge in the article 416 c.c. (criminal enterprise), as in the case of FIS' Algerians, supposed to be members of the GIA, in 1999 in Torino, and in the trial against them, that is now near to be finished in Napoli.

Together with an exploitable use and the abuse done of associative crimes, the most worrying thing is the definition of that today they are going to give to the word "terrorism",that can produce heavy consequences on the ground of repression. In Italy it has been necessary a law of authenticinterpretation (law 304, 1982) to define the "purpose of terrorism and subversion of democracy" as purpose of subversion of constitutional system, with the meaning of the whole of those principles and forms of organization of the state on the basis of the constitution.

But looking at the international situation, the founded fear is that the word "terrorism", that won't be possible to be used with the meaning of the internal law, could be extended to any political activity carachterized by violencetowards any constituted power, apart from any little requirement of formal democracy.

An example:in this new world alliance against terrorism, into which some despotic and repressive countries find their acknowledgement, we could consider -because of strategic reasons- many parties and organizations that are resisting and fighting against those dictatorships, as international terroristic associations, to follow in every place ( for example Kurdish parties, and the PKK in particular, which is yet considered subversive association in Germany, and now it culd be so everywhere), and for which it could not be invocable the concept of "war and liberation struggle".

But, above all, the new incriminating law is a real criminalization of every social and political opposition in every form it can articulate.  The purpose of terrorism, in fact, soon is deduced from the manner of behaviour, and it is obviously very wide: "with the aim to subvert or try to subvert political, economic and social structures of the country" (from the decision of European Council), an aim implied in many political struggles of antiglobalization movement, even if not characterized by violent or threatening methods. In this sense, in a period of social, political and economic crisis, full of protest actions, it is very simple to call everything "terrorism", so as to isolate, break and repress the wide resistance and opposition movement which imposed itself to the world.

On the contrary, demonstrations and counter-meetings that took place in Europe during last months (from Goteborg to Genova, to the last in Monaco) are all part of the new scheme of the article 270bis c.c., directed against everyone proposes himself to do acts of violence on things to damage an istitution or an international organization (G8, NATO, WTO, OCSE;).  It is important that these structures are raised from these laws to public organizations and, in the opening report of European Council's decision, all international organizations are considered the same, giving acknowledgement to those international structures that, representing the interest of little states that decide for whole mankind's future,, are totally devoid of any democratic validity.

Besides, the so-called "financing" of supposed terroristic associations is introduced as conduct penally important, both for international terrorism and for internal subversion. It's a term so faint that it can be used to hit activities of self-financing as that of indipendent political groups (concerts, subscription dinners,etc.), as activities of financing in favour of organizations which fight for freedom in their countries (palestinian, kurdish, columbian people...).

As we said before, the article 270 ter, that punishes assistance to members of associations foreseen by articles 270 and 270 bis, out of cases of favouring or sharing of crime, tries to hit everyone who never did anything but goes along with these supposed "politic-terroristic" organizations, and also the article tries to hit whoever gives food, hospitality,means of transport and instruments of computerized communication, to members of "terroristic associations". Apart from this, the law decree is on the same wavelength as what said before.  With reference to procedural instruments, it has to be underlined the extension of cases of perquisition and preventive tappings till 80 days, and other methods of prevention, as antimafia discipline.

And it is in the name of those new laws that police has carried out and continues perquisitions-combings, as for example in Rome, into houses and work seats of so called extra-community people, supposed to be members or to finance international terroristic associations.

It is unnecessary to underline that the result of those operations of "ethnic cleaning" has been only to expel and close into immigrant detention places some hundred "clandestine"people without finding evidence on the existence of "terroristic cells".

With regard to this,, it is very worrying the disposition for the usability of those activities' result : what should be investigative aims only, if those activities are not mentioned by investigation acts?  This is clearly an expansion of control powers which are going to expand, as a Big Brother , on everybody who, single or in group, is considered not compatible, and, so, potentially dangerous for the system.  Another important new introduced by antiterrorism law is constituted by the widening of cases of activity under cover in a way very disconcerting (for example it is foreseen the activity of telecom infiltration); this is a very serious law if we think that seldom italian police can penetrate with success into islamoc groups,, while it going to be used for more efficacious infiltrations into social movements and political structures, A last reflection: European Council's decisionhas given lots of "recommendations" (that is executive indications into all E.U.'s member states) on limitations to introduce in national laws for what regards political asylum and immigration, reducing further and so setting at zero the possibility, yet very reduced in italy, to obtain a refugee or political asylum, or some title of staygood in that "Europe Fortress" which tries every day to reinorce its walls.  In italian law, this problem is not mentioned, maybe to wait that it is passed the law "Bossi-Fini" in theme of immigration, that, even before European Council, had proposed a discipline more repressive,racist and xenophobe, that prevents, for example, the so called "familiar cohesion, that is the possibility to make arrive the own family, right ratified by many international agrrements, but, as we saw after 11th september, even the most elementary human rights are trod and cancelled in the name of "safety and struggle against terrorism".