After gaining approval in the Senate on Wednesday, the law will now go before Italy’s Chamber of Deputies before it can become part of the country’s criminal code.
Despite signing the UN’s Convention against Torture in 1985, Italy has failed to create a specific law to protect victims of torture and bring perpetrators to justice.
This week’s vote was praised by Justice Minister Andrea Orlando, who said the law can “fill the legal gap and bring the Italian legal system up to international standards.”
The minister also welcomed the torture law’s provision to “increase penalties for public officials that abuse their position,” which he said were up to the standards set out in Italy’s constitution and international conventions.
The legal shortfall was cited by Amnesty International as a key reason a group of officials and police officers avoided jail, despite being found guilty of torturing and mistreating protesters in Genoa in 2001.
“Convictions issued on appeal for grievous bodily harm against nine officers lapsed, as the statute of limitation came into effect prior to the conclusion of the appeal to the Supreme Court,” Amnesty International’s 2013 report said.
Responding to this week’s vote, the organizations’ president in Italy, Antonio Marchesi, said the text was “not perfect” but represented “an important first step” in criminalizing torture.