Italy: New ‘anti-rave law’ may curtail human right to peaceful assembly

Italy: New ‘anti-rave law’ may curtail human right to peaceful assembly - Civic Space

Photo: Pxhere

ARTICLE 19 Europe raises its concern over the newly-elected Italian government’s introduction of decree law no. 162/2022. The so-called ‘anti-rave law’ has been criticised for its excessively wide scope, which will curtail the right to peaceful assembly and to protest in Italy.

On 31 October 2022, a new decree law restricting gatherings was approved by the Italian Council of Ministers. The decree law introduces a new crime in the Penal Code (Article 434-bis) that punishes anyone who organises, on public or private terrains or buildings, gatherings of more than 50 people that could be perceived to be posing a danger to public order, safety and health. For this crime, the decree provides for a prison sentence of between three and six years and a fine of up to 10,000 euros. The decree also criminalises the simple act of participating in those gatherings, establishing, in such cases, a reduced sentence. Finally, the decree law provides for the possibility to apply surveillance measures to suspects. This new crime constitutes a bold restriction to the fundamental right to freedom of assembly, as protected by article 17 of the Italian Constitution, as well as Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees people’s fundamental right to gather in public space to express their views or dissent and share ideas.

ARTICLE 19 emphasises that the decree law is an exceptional instrument that must be used only in cases of extraordinary necessity and urgency. We argue that in the case at stake the use of this instrument is unjustified and it subtracts from the Parliament essential discussions about the limitations of constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights.

Furthermore, we warn that the formulation of the new crime is vague and overbroad, allowing for the potential criminalisation of a wide arrays of gatherings, such as musical events, school and university protests, and political, environmental or civic demonstrations, which constitute the core of the constitutionally-protected freedom of assembly. Additionally, the possibility to apply surveillance measures to suspects is unnecessary and extremely invasive of people’s rights to, among other rights, free movement, privacy and private communications.

Echoing concerns raised by opposition parties, civil society and judges in Italy, ARTICLE 19 Europe urges the government to immediately repeal the decree law.