(Sept. 9, 2019) On August 9, 2019, new legislation related to protecting victims of domestic and gender violence entered into force in Italy. (Law No. 69 of July 19, 2019, Amendments to the Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and other Provisions on the Protection of Victims of Domestic and Gender Violence (in Italian).)
Changes to the Criminal Code
Law No. 69 makes the following changes to the Criminal Code (Codice Penale, C.C., updated to July 2016):
Article 4(1) adds article 387-bis to the Criminal Code, punishing those who violate temporary removal orders from the family home or the prohibition against approaching places frequented by the injured person with six months to three years of imprisonment.
Article 7(1) of Law No. 69 adds article 558-bis to the Criminal Code, to introduce the new crime of compelling a person to contract marriage or a civil union through violence or threat, or inducing a person to do so owing to their vulnerability. Offenders are punishable by one to five years’ imprisonment, with increased penalties when the victim is 18 years of age or younger. These provisions also apply when the offense is committed abroad by an Italian citizen or by a foreigner residing in Italy or to the detriment of an Italian citizen or a foreigner residing in Italy.
Article 9(2) amends article 572 of the Criminal Code, increasing the punishment for mistreating a family member; a cohabiting person; or a person subjected to the perpetrator’s authority or entrusted to him/her by reason of education, instruction, care, oversight, custody, or the performance of a profession or art to three to seven years’ imprisonment. The penalty is increased by half if the offense is committed in the presence of or injures a minor, pregnant women, or disabled person, or if weapons are used.
Article 10(1) adds article 612-terr to the Criminal Code to criminalize the unlawful dissemination, sale, or publication of sexually explicit images or videos of a person without the person’s consent, in order to harm the person. Offenders are punishable by imprisonment from one to six years and a fine €5,000–€15,000 (about US$5,518–$16,554), with increased penalties when the crime is committed by the spouse, even if divorced or separated, or by those who have been sentimentally connected with the offended person, or when the offense is committed through computer or electronic means.
Article 12(1) adds article 583-quinquies to the Criminal Code, punishing someone who causes permanent deformation or disfigurement of a person’s face with eight to fourteen years’ imprisonment.
Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure Concerning Certain Sexual Crimes
Law No. 69 also introduces amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure concerning the sexual mistreatment of a family member or minor children, sexual violence, aggravating circumstances concerning sexual violence, sexual acts with minors, corruption of minors, and group sexual violence and threats. (Codice di Procedura Penale (updated to Aug. 2019), English translation (2014).)
- broaden the judicial police’s obligation to provide notice of these crimes to the public prosecutor (Law No. 69, art. 1(1));
- reinforce the public prosecutor’s obligation to take information from the injured person and the person who filed the complaint or criminal action within three days from the registration of the notice of the crime, with certain exceptions benefiting minors or for the confidentiality of the investigation (art. 2(1));
- provide that those convicted of these crimes may be admitted to social reinsertion programs administered by specialized entities (art. 17(1)(b)), conditioning the benefit of suspension of the penalty (parole) on participation in such programs (art. 6(1));
- mandate the public prosecutor to communicate immediately the judicial excarcelation to the convicted person and his lawyer (art. 15(5)); and
- order the national police and the penitentiary police to implement specific compulsory training courses for personnel who perform public security and judicial police functions in relation to the prevention and prosecution of these crimes or who intervene in the penitentiary treatment of persons convicted of them (art. 5(1)).
Further amendments benefit persons who become orphans as a result of domestic violence by providing scholarships for educational and employment reinsertion opportunities and increasing funds for foster families during the 2019–21 period. (Art. 8(1)(a) & 8(2).)