La iniciativa es el resultado de una campaña liderada por una ONG italiana y que pone de relieve el vínculo entre el hacinamiento en las cárceles del país y la ‘mano dura’ en las leyes de drogas. 

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The Justice Commission of the Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei Deputati) will begin to examine a norm aimed at changing the present drug legislation (the so called Fini-Giovanardi law, introduced by the Berlusconi government in 2006), after a round of hearings of experts. The norm aims at mitigating the harsh penalties in the 2006 drug legislation, by introducing a specific provision of drug crimes of “minor relevance” to be punished with less severe penalties. The norm is part of a more comprehensive drug legislation reform, advocated by a coalition of NGOs working in drug policy, justice and human rights (among them, Antigone, Forum Droghe, Coordinamento Nazionale Comunità di Accoglienza, Società della Ragione, Magistratura Democratica).

One year ago, the coalition launched the campaign Drugs, Prisons and human rights, highlighting the link between Italian prisons overcrowding and the “tough on drugs” legislation. The coalition of NGO’s has been monitoring the effects of the drug law on the overcrowding crisis and has released four editions of the “Fini-Giovanardi” White Book, based on data from yearly Governmental Reports. The Fourth White Book, released in June 2013, confirmed that more than 20.000 people were imprisoned for drug crimes out of an overall 63.000, representing an increase from 31,7% in 2011 to 32,4 in 2012. Half of the people detained in overcrowded Italian prisons are charged or sentenced for non violent drug crimes or for minor crimes committed by addicts.

The coalition of NGO’s has called for a three point reform and drafted a set of bills aimed at 1) improving prison conditions 2) introducing the crime of torture into the penal code 3) changing drug legislation (by introducing lower penalties for minor drug crimes, distinguishing between illegal substances with less severe penalties for milder drugs, decriminalizing personal use, promoting alternatives to incarceration for drug users). The bills have since attracted more than 40.000 signatures from Italian citizens while the web campaign on the dedicated site , with spots of popular testimonials, has reached hundreds of thousands of visitors. More important, the three bills have been endorsed by a number of MPs, who have been urging to put the bills in the Parliament’s agenda.

In recent months, the campaign “Drugs, Prisons and human rights” has achieved more significant results: the norms to promote alternatives to incarceration for drug users were introduced in the government’s law by decree to address prison overcrowding and were approved by the Parliament at the end of July; while the bill introducing the crime of torture has been already discussed and approved by the Justice Commission and put in the agenda of the Assembly.

The campaign “Drugs, Prisons and human rights” on

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