Italy has revised its law regarding provisions in favor of politically or racially persecuted persons and of their survivor relatives, facilitating access to compensation to victims.
The Union of Italian Jewish communities (UCEI), which had requested these revisions, described the revisions as fundamental, and for which a lot of work was done.
The new amendments, published in the country’s new budget law, extends the term limit of the law from September 8, 1943, to April 25, 1945, thereby emphasising that the persecution refers to the whole period of the Nazi-fascist occupation ending with the Day of Liberation.
Until this date, persecutions by both Nazi occupiers and fascists were still ongoing. This signals that the persecution Italy must be held accountable for isn’t just the fascist one and does not end with the invasion subsequent to the armistice.
The new amendments also shift the burden of proof for acts of violence and torture suffered in Italy and abroad politically or racially persecuted persons. They are now held to be credible unless proven otherwise.
Previously, any applicant was required to submit evidence of the persecutory act demonstrating the experience and suffering of acts of violence and torture by means original documents or testimonies.
Beyond the objective difficulty of supplying such evidence and the extremely variable evaluation of what constitutes a persecutory act, the question of admissibility was plagued with a mortifying subjectivity.
After the shame and exclusion by racist laws, after the physical persecution and deportation, Jews still had to demonstrate the application of such persecution towards them happened “by the book”. All of this after the formal abolition of anti-Jewish laws, after the Constitution of 1947.
The amendments acknowledge (implicitly) that laws and circular letters created and promulgated in Italy were rigorously applied against the Jewish population and that it is normatively incoherent, if not morally aberrant, to ask the victims of such acts to provide evidence.
There still is a lot to do and to clarify with regard to the concept of violence and other subjective circumstances, excluded from the merit, that these amendments haven’t covered.
The recognition for this significant turning point, after more than 80 years, goes to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who accepted UCEI’s proposal of creating a new commission to study the subject in depth, together with the MEF (Ministry of Economy and Finances) and the Ministry of Justice; to the staff of the Prime Minister’s office engaged and following the whole process to reach the definitive approval of these amendments; to the president emeritus of the Supreme Court, Giovanni Canzio, who directed the work of the designated commission, conducting the enquiry and technical legal analysis.
Among other institutions, credit is due along with UCEI to the Aned (National Association of Italian political deportees from Nazi concentration camps) and the Anppia (National Association of Politically Persecuted Anti-Fascist Italians), who worked alongside the experts from the MEF and the Ministry of Justice.
This is not the last step to be taken and many aspects still need interpretative and normative clarifications, for which we hope this effective collaboration between UCEI, the Government and the other ministers involved will go on.
In a separate piece of legislation, € 6.5 million were allocated for work on the old Jewish cemetery of Mantua within the framework of the bigger renovation project Mantova-Hub, so that it is carried out according to the religious rules, in agreement with UCEI and the Italian Rabbinical Assembly.
For this effort, the Prime Minister’s office received a letter of consideration and appreciation from the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau.