National frameworks to address hate crime in Italy

This page provides information on the national frameworks to address hate crime in Italy. The information provided here should be viewed alongside data presented on Italy's hate crime report page.

Hate crime recording and data collection

Italian legislation does not provide a definition of hate crime. Hate crimes are recorded by police using the same process as for other crimes. There is no instruction or policy document to guide police in identifying and recording hate crimes.

Initial crime reports, including victim information and information about police action and legal qualification, are entered into and stored in the Sistema di Indagine (SDI) database. The SDI is organized according to different criminal law provisions, which are marked on every report entered into the system. For this reason, the SDI system only registers hate crime strands mentioned in the law, including ethnicity, nationality, "race", religion, or crime against national linguistic minorities. There is no specific marker for each bias motivation in the SDI, so crimes cannot be distinguished in the database according to motive. Crimes committed on discriminatory grounds other than those explicitly outlined in the law (e.g., gender identity or sexual orientation) are entered into the SDI as ordinary offences. Instead, such crimes are monitored via a separate system, and the reports are collected by the Observatory for Security against Discriminatory Acts (OSCAD).

OSCAD is an inter-agency body established in 2010 within the Department of Public Security of the Central Directorate of Criminal Police. The reports it collects, which do not replace the reporting of the crime before the police bodies, are sent to OSCAD by institutions, associations or private citizens, including anonymously. OSCAD processes the received reports, and acts as a point of contact between the reporting party, the police office responsible for handling the case and the other institutions that are possibly concerned (i.e., schools, agencies, etc.). OSCAD co-operates with civil society partners, such as the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI), Foundation Jewish Contemporary Documentation Center (CDEC), and the Gay Help Line to facilitate reporting of hate crimes by the communities concerned.      

Not all reports collected by OSCAD are included in the SDI database. In 2011, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between OSCAD and the National Office against Racial Discrimination (UNAR) of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. On the basis of the Memorandum, UNAR and OSCAD exchange information about incidents, including hate crime cases reported to UNAR's contact centre. OSCAD also receives reports from civil society organizations (CSOs) working with victims of hate crimes. OSCAD facilitates contact between the reporting organization and the relevant police office or other institution.

At the central level, the responsibility for managing the SDI database, including hate crimes, lies with the Ministry of the Interior's Central Directorate of Criminal Police. As the SDI does not allow hate crime bias motivations to be distinguished, only aggregated data on all monitored strands of hate crime are available. This aggregate number includes hate crimes committed on the grounds of "race"/skin colour, ethnicity, origin, minority status, citizenship, language, bias against Roma and Sinti, and bias against religion. The categories of "race" and religion cannot be broken down into subcategories as the law prohibits the recording of such data.

There is no option for prosecutors to flag hate crimes in the relevant casefile management system. It is only possible to detect hate crimes by referring to a particular criminal provision and/or aggravating circumstances provision (general penalty enhancement). The Ministry of Justice is responsible for collecting criminal data registered at ordinary courts through the General Directorate for Statistics and Organizational Analysis of the Department for Judicial Organization of Staff and Services. Data relating to people under investigation for hate crimes with a request for closure or being brought to trial are dealt with by the National Statistics Institute (ISTAT).

Hate crime victim support

Italy offers support to victims of hate crimes both as part of its general victim support scheme and through civil society organizations (CSOs), which respond to the needs of particular targeted groups. Hate crime victims are included in the definition of a "particularly vulnerable victim" in the Italian Criminal Procedure Code.

A dedicated structure at the Ministry of Justice, the "Co-ordination Table", serves as an inter-agency co-ordination mechanism for victim support services, including public administration and CSOs. Its aim is to create an integrated network of country-wide and centrally co-ordinated assistance to accompany victims from first contact with the authorities and provide comprehensive protection and support, including the necessary psychosocial support and the compensation of damages.

Additionally, the National Office against Racial Discrimination (UNAR) – a state agency tasked with promoting equal treatment and addressing discrimination based on race or ethnic origin – monitors the implementation of protection measures and provides assistance to the victims of discrimination in judicial and administrative proceedings. UNAR's mandate is supported by a network of Regional Anti-Discrimination Centres and CSOs, which are included in a state register of entities working to combat discrimination and promote equal treatment. There is also a state-supported web portal for transgender people that provides information on specialist health support services.

The procedure in place for conducting individual needs assessment (INA) for crime victims also addresses the bias motivation of the crime. However, the legislation does not specify who is responsible for conducting the INA. In practice, it is the judicial authority, advised by relevant experts in psychology, law and social work, that takes a decision on granting victims the status of having a "particular vulnerability". A statement of vulnerability is required from the victim and attached to the case file for each bias-motivated crime.

The entities providing general support services for crime victims include: physical and mental health care facilities; specialized facilities for minors, persons with disabilities, the elderly and adults in difficulty; shelters and safe houses; and anti-violence and victim support centres. The services offered by these entities include special protection measures (such as providing home and travel safety, relocation to a protected place and financial assistance, or allowing victim testimonies to be recorded and the use of special hearing rooms, etc.). The specific services offered is decided on first contact with the victim.

Some police headquarters have established victim listening desks and co-operate informally with CSOs, local authorities and other criminal justice institutions. However, victim referral mechanisms in Italy are often created at the initiative of the specialized CSOs, which enter into partnerships with other support providers and criminal justice institutions (such as prosecutor's offices), bar associations, and medical service providers. These specialized services rely on public subsidies and private donations, and are not available in all regions to an equal extent. They often function without formal links to the general victim support system. There is no publicly available information about specialized support providers.  

Continuous training on hate crime is available to police forces. The curricula address issues related to ethical conduct, including sensitive and respectful treatment of crime victims by police. An important role is played by the Observatory for security against discriminatory acts (OSCAD), which brings together representatives of law enforcement agencies and government. One of OSCAD's tasks is to provide relevant training on hate crime to police officers. Guidelines on victims' rights have been developed for criminal justice institutions.

Hate crime capacity building

The Italian State Police has been trained on hate crime since 2012 during both initial and in-service courses adapted to the needs of the trainees. The training is compulsory and is an integral part of the professional training for both new staff entering the service and for staff acquiring a higher qualification. In 2018, following two seminar cycles of training for trainers at the Institute for State Police Superintendents in Spoleto, a pool of trainers specializing in preventing and combating crimes of a discriminatory nature at the Educational Institutions was created to support the cascading of hate crime training.

In the basic training for Carabinieri, the trainees are obliged to attend a module on human rights, in which hate crimes are also covered. This module is aimed at Carabinieri at all levels (Officers, Inspectors, Superintendents and Carabinieri), and is adapted accordingly. Hate crimes are also covered by the university courses followed by the officers and inspectors obtaining degrees in the rule of law and in security studies.   

OSCAD contributes to the training of both police and Carabinieri as part of national and international training programmes.