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Italy outlaws torture in controversial bill

[JURIST] Italy's Chamber of Deputies [official website] approved a bill on Wednesday to outlaw certain forms of torture. The new law defines [press release, in Italian] torture as "acts, single or repeated, causing suffering and trauma such as to harm the dignity of a person, already deprived of their liberty" by a public official or anyone else responsible for the victim's well-being. The bill was passed [Reuters report] by a vote of 198 to 35, with many on the left abstaining. Italy's center-left Democratic Party [party website, in Italian] supported the bill, which the party says will leave no torture unpunished and brings Italy's definition of torture in line with the UN. Italy's center-right party fears that the new law will make it more difficult for the military and law enforcement to perform their duties. However, on the left, many feel that the law did not go far enough by excluding some forms of torture from the definition. Amnesty International [advocacy website] said [press release] last week that the law was "confusing and restrictive."

Torture is one of the most controversial issues facing the international community. Last month UN rights experts expressed concern [JURIST report] over human rights violations in Burundi, including torture. That same month a Guantanamo Bay detainee filed suit [JURIST report] against the psychologists who devised interrogation tactics. In May a UN report revealed [JURIST report] excessive violence and torture in South Sudan. In April Human Rights Watch called for an investigation [JURIST report] into the torture of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. As of March, the International Criminal Court was exploring the possibility [JURIST commentary] of prosecuting Americans for torture allegedly carried out in Afghanistan.

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