New anti-terrorist law decree
A law decree amending anti-terrorist legislation to introduce
the new criminal category of "association with the aim of
international terrorism" was approved by the Berlusconi
government on 18 October 2001. It will affect people who "promote,
establish, organise, direct or finance, including indirectly,
associations" intending to commit acts of violence on persons
or things abroad, or for the detriment of a foreign State, institution
or international organisation for terrorist scopes. The punishment
for such offences ranges from seven to 15 years, whereas five
to ten year sentences are applicable for participation in such
Offering refuge, hospitality, means of transport or instruments
for communication to persons participating in such associations
are offences carrying sentences of up to four years in prison.
The main developments are the extension of anti-terrorist powers
to international terrorism and the financing of terrorist associations.
The description of what constitutes international terrorism follows
the approach in the UK Terrorism Act (2000) in that it makes
no distinction between the nature of foreign states against which
"terrorist" activities are conducted.
This idea was also taken up in the Conclusions of the EU summit
which followed the 11 September attacks in New York and Washington,
despite concerns expressed in the European Parliament Committee
on the Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs'
report on combating terrorism. The report, adopted on 5 September
by the European Parliament, said that a distinction should be
made between acts of terrorism and:
acts of resistance in third countries against state structures
which themselves employ terrorist methods.
The inclusion of acts of violence to the detriment of "a
foreign State, institution or international organisation"
could also be used against protest movements. Such legislation
could be applied to demonstrations against EU summits or meetings
of organisations such as the IMF and G8, if they are characterised
Anti-terrorist powers in Italy include the possibility of preventative
detention during preliminary investigations for a period which
was extended from 18 to 24 months on 7 May 2001 by the previous
government. The decree also envisages the possibility of undercover
activities, whereby there would be no sanctions against agents
whose actions are covered by previous judicial authorisation,
and preventative surveillance in the form of interceptions of
telecommunications (including e-mails). These interceptions must
be authorised by a magistrate for a maximum period of forty days,
which can be extended by a further twenty days.
Sources: European Parliament report on the
role of the European Union in combating terrorism (2001/2016(INI)),
Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home
Affairs; "Disposizioni urgenti per contrastare il terrorismo
internazionale" - Urgent measures to combat international
terrorism, d.l. 374/2001; www.cittadinolex.kataweb.it; "Terrorismo,
tempo piu lunghi per le indagini", d.l. 98/2001.
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