ITALY: Security decree bis and the right to protest

A new Security Decree is currently under discussion, targeting search and rescue NGOs as well as other forms of dissent.

(Translated with DeepL from Italian – Contropiano) Reiterating the scheme of the first “Salvini” Decree, the first group of measures targeting migrants and solidarity has been followed by other articles aimed at attacking all forms of social conflict and organization, this time regardless of the geographical origins of the participants.

Article 5 adds a provision to Article 18 of the 1931 Law (limited in its scope by the rulings of the Constitutional Court that have taken place over time), whereby the promoters of unannounced or unauthorized meetings are punished with imprisonment of up to one year when damage and devastation are committed in the meetings themselves – therefore transforming the infraction into a penal crime. Additionally, regardless of participation in the act of damage, the promoter of the event could be sentenced to imprisonment – even without any fault on his part. Simple damage (a vase of flowers broken) committed by anyone during a demonstration would lead to the contestation of the criminal offence against the offender.

Another criminal offence is introduced in Article 24 of the Law on Public Security, with the provision of up to one year’s imprisonment for those promoters of unauthorised or pre-announced events who do not comply with the order of dissolution of the meeting.

And again, in the 1975 law, “the use of protective helmets, or any other means to make it difficult to recognise the person” (even a simple scarf covering the face) is modified from administrative fine to criminal offence, punished with up to two years of imprisonment, “if the act is committed on the occasion of demonstrations in a public place or open to the public“. Moreover, in such cases, the possibility of arrest in flagrant is allowed.

Also with regard to demonstrations, a new type of crime is introduced with the art. 5 bis of Law 152/1975. This implies that anyone who opposes a passive resistance to the public officer by using shields “or other objects of passive protection or polluting materials” – an hypothesis so far not considered such as to constitute a possible crime – is punishable by imprisonment from one to three years and with imprisonment from one to four years of anyone who, during the course of the demonstrations, throws or uses illegally rockets, bengalas, fireworks, firecrackers, instruments for the emission of smoke or visible gas or capable of spraying stinging active ingredients, or sticks, clubs, blunt objects or objects used to attack , in such a way as to create a concrete danger for the safety of persons or the integrity of things. By simple reading text, one clearly understands the heaviness of the sanctions, the target of this measure (any form of protest) and the lack of precise boundaries to the application of the law, so as to make it indefinitely extensible.


Article 7, which provides for an extraordinary Government Commissioner – appointed on the proposal of the Minister of the Interior – to eliminate the delay related to sentences of criminal convictions that have become irrevocable would be an unprecedented interference by the executive (more worryingly, of the Ministry of the Interior) in the delicate area of criminal enforcement. The removal  of the obligation to notify the competent judicial offices, and to their heads, might lead to the Commissioner appointed by the government to become responsible for deciding which sentences must be enforced first, possibly even with the prison. The Judiciary comments:The shift from the criminal law of the enemy to the judicial politics of the enemy would quickly be made”.

The provision of Art. 8 contains a series of amendments to various provisions of the Criminal Code, all oriented in the sense of an increase in sanctions and repression absolutely aimed at the forms of social conflict and expression of dissent from government choices. […].


Any struggle of workers to protest or claim employment stability or improvements in wage regulations, any student demonstration, any local or territorial struggle to curb environmental devastation or to ask for public services can end in jail for demonstrators because even the passive resistance will be punished regardless of the particular tenuity of the fact.


For years we have been witnessing (with the help of all political groups competing with each other in showing the muscles to a public opinion unidirectionally oriented by the media) to a denial of the constitutional principles and legal civility that recognises criminal sanctions and imprisonment as a last resort. With this step, which would follow that of the first “Salvini” Decree, the goal of a comprehensive militarization of the political, social and syndical dynamics is now directly and clearly pursued.