Italy: Illegals to be reported by doctors - the criticised norm approved by the Senate

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[article from Repubblica newspaper]

Rome - Doctors will be able to report "illegal" immigrants to the judicial authorities. The homeless will be registered. The tax for the residence permit has been set at between 80 and 200 Euros. Moreover, the "ronde padane" [citizen patrols, thus referred to because of continuing support for them by the Lega Nord] have been authorised, but they cannot be armed. After the government was beaten three times yesterday on the tightening [of norms] on detention centres and family reunifications, today the Senate advanced quickly in the voting of the last few of the 55 articles, and approved the draft law on public security with 154 votes in favour, 114 against and no abstentions. The measures will now undergo scrutiny in the Chamber of Deputies [the lower house of parliament].

Prison and tax for the residence permit. The Senate began with the Lega Nord's amendment that cancels the norm whereby doctors must not report foreigners who turn to public health service establishments. Apart from allowing doctors to report "illegals" who resort to public health service establishments, the amendment, which went through with 156 yes votes, 132 noes and one abstention, envisages imprisonment for up to four years for "illegal" immigrants who remain within the national territory in spite of an expulsion and sets the tax [to be paid] for a residence permit at between 80 and 200 Euros.

Veltroni: "Doctors-police officers, it is inhumane and racist". Before the Senate gave the go-ahead to the possibility for doctors to report "illegal" immigrants, the opposition appealed to "common sense" against the introduction of a norm that "reduces doctors to a role as informers", forcing "illegals" to "not receive cures out of fear". Thus running against the most basic human rights, that come before those of citizenship.

After the vote, Walter Veltroni strongly criticised the norm, describing the notion of police officer/doctors "inhumane and racist". "I consider this amendment something shameful", the PD [Partito Democratico] secretary said. "The idea of creating conditions whereby people who are ill will fear going to receive medical care is an inhumane notion, it is an idea that would deserve a very strong and determined answer from all those who care about life".

Senator Daniele Bosone observed that this norm "rips up the deontological code of doctors" and will entail "the concrete risk of fostering a parallel medical [service] that will be used by 'illegals' not to be reported if they turn to hospitals or a doctor", Moreover, according to Bosone, there is a risk that "'illegals' with diseases that they bring from their countries will not receive cures" with consequences for public health itself".

The register for the homeless is born. Homeless people living in Italy will have to be included in a national register that will be established in the interior ministry. The chamber of palazzo Madama [Senate] approved article 44 of the draft law on security that envisages the recording of homeless people, to be initiated within 180 days from the entry into force of the law.

Yes to the "ronde padane" (see above). The Senate approved article 46 of the draft law on security that institutionalises the so-called "ronde padane". In fact, the norm envisages that local councils will "be legally allowed to resort to the co-operation of associations of citizens in order to inform local police bodies about events that may be liable to harm urban security or give rise to environmental situations causing concern". However, thanks to an amendment proposed by the PD, whose first signatory was Felice Casson, the patrols may not circulate carrying weapons and will not be able to "co-operate in the undertaking of territorial defence activities", as had been envisaged in the text agreed by the Senate's justice commission.

Ok to the norm against apology of the Mafia on the web. In the draft law on security, the Senate approved the amendment proposed by the spokesman for the UDC [Unione dei Democratici Cristiani e Democratici di Centro] group, Gianpiero D'Alia, which was re-drafted and hence accepted by the government, that forbids apology or fomenting, via the Internet or by telematic means in general, of the activity of organised criminal groups, of subversive associations as well as of incitement to sexual violence, ethnic, racial or religious hatred. Phenomena such as those of the group in favour of [Mafia boss] Riina that appeared on Facebook will, thus, no longer be allowed.

No prison for "writers" [graffiti artists]. In the end, the Lega got its way and imprisonment is no longer envisaged for "writers", while fines are reduced by half. In fact, the Chamber of the Senate has approved some amendments proposed by the Lega Nord that rule out the measure of imprisonment for people who smear the walls in cities from the government's draft law. It is also provided that whoever sells spray cans to minors containing non-biodegradable paint will be punished with administrative fines of up to 1,000 Euros. Hence, the new drafting of article 7 of the draft law provides that a private lawsuit will only be necessary if moveable goods are smeared; for any other non-moveable goods [such as real estate] and public or private vehicles, proceedings will be initiated "ex officio". The fine for "writers" will range from 300 to a thousand Euros; but if the act is committed on things that have an historical or artistic value, the fine will rise to between 1,000 and 1,500 Euros (in the text that was admitted by the commission, it was of up to 3,000 Euros).

There will be no tax arrears payable on goods confiscated from the Mafia. In cases in which the State confiscates goods, businesses or companies from criminal organisations, tax arrears will be extinguished, that is, outstanding taxes will not have to be paid. In fact, the Chamber of palazzo Madama approved an amendment to the draft law on security submitted by the rapporteurs Carlo Vizzini and Filippo Bertelli.
(Repubblica, 5 February 2009)

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