Italian Senate passes first justice reform confidence vote

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The Senate on Wednesday passed a confidence vote on the first article of the government’s reform of the criminal justice system by 208 votes to 28. The reform was approved by the Lower House last month and moved to the Senate after parliament’s summer recess.

The package, aimed at speeding up the system, caused considerable tension within Premier Mario Draghi’s coalition before a compromise was reached at the end of July. The reform, drafted by Justice Minister Marta Cartabia, sets limits on the time it can take to rule on first appeals and on cases at the supreme court. It effectively waters down a reform passed by Alfonso Bonafede, a 5-Star Movement (M5S) lawmaker who was the justice minister in ex-premier Giuseppe Conte’s two coalition governments from June 2018 until the start of this year.

Bonafede’s reform puts the statue of limitations on hold after the first-instance ruling in order to stop criminals getting off because their cases get timed out due to the slowness of the legal system. The judiciary’s self-governing body, the CSM, said a huge number of cases would end up being shelved if the Cartabia reform had been approved in its original form.

The M5S demanded changes to the reform to stop this happening, which led to a compromise in which crimes regarding the mafia, terrorism, sexual violence and criminal association are handled under a different regime. Speeding up Italy’s notoriously slow judicial system is necessary, among other things, because the granting of EU COVID Recovery Plan funds is conditional upon it.


File Photo – Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio speaks during his briefing in the Senate on security in the Mediterranean and the situation in the Middle East, in Rome, Italy, 19 May 2021. EPA-EFE/ANGELO CARCONI

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