ITALY: Italian activists now face huge fines

Extract from article by Angela Symons, published on Euronews on 15/06/2023 – accessible here.

On Tuesday (11 April) the Italian government announced plans to bring in hefty fines for people who damage monuments or cultural sites.

The penalties are aimed at activists who in recent weeks have made headlines for their public stunts highlighting the climate crisis.

Two environmental activists from the Last Generation protest group are the latest to receive a large fine as well as a suspended jail sentence.

At the start of April, members of climate activism organisation Last Generation turned the waters in Rome’s La Barcaccia fountain black to draw attention to the country’s water crisis.

This is the latest in a long line of eye-catching protests, ranging from activists glueing themselves to a famous painting in Florence to hurling paint at Milan’s La Scala opera house.

Under the new law, actions like this would be punishable with fines of between €10,000 and €60,000. This will be additional to existing fines and prison sentences for criminal damage.

This week, two members of the Last Generation climate protest group were fined €30,000 and given a suspended prison sentence for damages during a stunt last year. 

The activists glued themselves to the base of the ancient Laocoon statue housed in the Vatican museums. 

Italy’s Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano says the fines will be used to cover the cleanup costs of such actions.