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Italian bill criminalizing “Revenge porn” passed into law. Tougher penalties for domestic violence

Follows an analysis of the new types of offences under the law for the protection of victims of domestic and gender-based violence passed by the Italian Parliament. Amendments to the Penal Code come into force: tougher penalties in some cases, - as in domestic violence - with new offences introduced in others, such as the criminalisation of so-called "revenge porn", or offences causing permanent facial damage.

The government-introduced 21-article Law “for the protection of victims of domestic abuse and gender-based violence”, passed by Senate vote, incorporates provisions under the Criminal Procedure Code to fast-track Court hearings (hence the “red-code” definition), as well as amendments to the Penal Code, with tougher penalties in some cases and new types of offences such as those targeting “revenge porn” or causing permanent facial damage.

Measures relating to criminal prosecution – enshrined in the first three articles in particular – are designed to reduce preliminary investigations to a minimum.

 Under the new law, judicial police must immediately report the offence to the public prosecutor, even verbally, taking immediate action with no possibility to assess if there are grounds for urgency. The victim must be heard by the magistrate within three days of notification of the offence. The new law also stipulates that the victim has twelve months to file a complaint and that even in case of suspended sentence the convicted is required to follow rehabilitation programs provided by agencies and associations dealing with prevention and assistance to victims of domestic and gender-based violence.
Articles 4 and 7 provide for two new offences. 

The first is the infringement of the barring order to leave the victim’s home and the prohibition from coming into the proximity of the places frequented by the offended party, punishable by six months to three years’ imprisonment. The second is forced or induced marriage,  punishable with imprisonment from one to six years for anyone who induces or forces another person to enter into a personal relationship or a civil union through violence or threats, or by taking advantage of circumstances of particular vulnerability.

Harsher punishments in the event of abuse against household members and cohabiting partners: 

prison sentence for those convicted – previously between two to six years – is increased to three up to seven years; punishment is further increased by up to half if the offence is committed in the presence of or to the detriment of a minor, pregnant woman or disabled person, or if the offence is committed with weapons. Increased punishments for stalking: from one up to six years and six months imprisonment.

Article 10 provides for the criminalization of so-called “revenge porn” 

and punishes, with imprisonment from one to six years and a fine ranging from 5,000 to 15,000 Euros, anyone who, after having produced or stolen sexually explicit images or videos, intended for private use, sends, delivers, sells, publishes or broadcasts said audiovisual materials, without the express consent of the persons concerned. It also stipulates that the punishment is increased if the offence of illegal dissemination of the material is committed by the spouse, even if separated or divorced, or by a person who is or has been in a relationship with the offended party. The same applies if the material is disseminated through IT or telematic tools.; if the offence is committed against a person in a condition of physical or mental inferiority or against a pregnant woman (in these cases, the penalty is increased from one third to one half and is also punishable by way of ex officio indictment, while it is normally prosecuted upon complaint by the offended party).

The definition of the offence committed by a person who causes a deformation of the person’s appearance through permanent facial injuries has also been introduced into the Penal Code.

The offender (Article 12) is punishable by eight to fourteen years imprisonment. In case of the death of the victim the person convicted is punishable by life imprisonment. If condemned, the offender loses the right to hold any office related to protection, supervision and counselling.
Higher penalties for sexual violence: from six to twelve years imprisonment (from eight to fourteen years for group violence).

Aggravating circumstances have been reformulated, with a particular focus on minors.

A specific aggravating circumstance regards sexual activities with children under 14 in exchange for money or any other benefit, even if only promised.

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