Extension of soldiers' deployment in cities
In a joint press conference on 22 July 2010, interior minister Roberto Maroni and defence minister, Ignazio La Russa, announced that "as a result of the good results arising from this synergy", the deployment of soldiers to support police forces in the surveillance of sensitive targets or high-risk areas in cities, which was set to expire on 4 August 2010, would be extended until 31 December 2010.
This further step towards the routine presence of soldiers on the streets in peacetime did not draw much comment. The "plan for the deployment of the armed forces for control of the territory" was approved on 29 July 2008 and came into force on 4 August, involving the deployment of 3,000 soldiers, evenly distributed between three tasks: the external surveillance of detention centres (CIEs, literally, identification and expulsion centres), surveillance of sensitive sites (predominantly in Rome, including a number of embassies and consulates) and to be made available to the prefects [government representatives responsible for security in a given city] for patrol and reconnaissance purposes, to be used in joint police-military patrols or posts.
A year after the measure came into force, seeing as minister Maroni cited a decrease in criminal offences as evidence that they were working, and La Russa had argued when they were first deployed that "No decent person has ever been scared of a police officer, a carabiniere or a [member of the] military", a joint interior and defence ministry decree was included in law 102/2009 on 4 August 2009. It extended the measure for a year, increased the number of soldiers available for this task (from 3,000 to 4,250), confirmed their deployment in the 10 cities where the scheme had started (Bari, Caserta, Catania, Milan, Naples, Padua, Palermo, Rome, Turin and Verona), extending it to 13 others (Bergamo, Bologna, Florence, Foggia, Genoa, Messina, Piacenza, Pordenone, Prato, Rimini, Treviso, Venice and Vercelli). The 1,250 additional members of the armed forces would all fall under the category of personnel made available for prefects (see above).
Interior ministry newsletter, 22.7.2010
Previous Statewatch coverage
Italy: Open-ended emergencies: deployment of soldiers in the streets and summary treatment for Roma people, November 2009
Italy: Deployment of armed forces to guarantee security in cities, July 2008 [includes links to the relevant measures and a breakdown of their initial deployment]
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