On 17 November the ENCOD Steering Committee has sent the following letter to the people mentioned below. We ask you to do the same. The email adresses can be found by clicking on the names.
To the kind attention of the Italian and International public opinion and of the
Home Secretary, Mr.Roberto Maroni
Brussels, 17 November 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen!
The news about the death of Mr Stefano Cucchi at the Sandro Pertini Hospital in Rome after having been arrested by the Italian Military Police (Carabinieri), on 22 October 2009, has caused us to write you this letter.
When he was arrested one week before, after being found with 20 grams of cannabis, Mr. Cucchi was in good health. He died after a week inwhich he was isolated from his family, although his parents had asked all week long to be informed about their son’s medical condition. Alledgedly he has been denied access to a lawyer too.
As European citizens we wish to express our sincere indignation about this event. We remind you of the terrible pictures of police violence in Genova during the G8 of July 2001, when police officers who searched the press center at the Genova’s Social Forum mistreated many Italian and foreign journalists as well as peaceful demonstrators.
The people who bore responsability for these acts were never punished. Some leading officials at the offices of Public Security and others who were responsible for these acts have been even promoted to higher posts. Most of these crimes have remained unpunished.
The Italian Republic has yet to adopt the necessary measures to ban both physical and psychological torture, as demanded by the Geneva Conventions. There is a long history of impunity about human rights’ violations carried out by representatives of the Italian state, including cases of torture that have shocked the Italian society since the 1950s.
In addition to this overall negative record comes the current implementation of a repressive drug legislation within the framework of the law Fini-Giovanardi, that automatically turns people possessing relatively small amounts of illegal substances into drug traffickers. This new law and its interpretation by the current government has led to a massive criminalization of consumers of illegal substances even though Mr Fini, main author of the law and actual Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies had announced at the time of approving the new law that he would give up his seat in Parliament in case the first arrests of consumers would occur.
By striking hard at cannabis consumers and activists of the anti-prohibition movement, the enforcement of the Fini Giovanardi law has provoked the violation of human rights we consider unworthy in a state of law.
As European citizens we ask the Italian government to conduct a swift and complete investigation into the circumstances that have caused the death of Stefano Cucchi in Rome and to prosecute those responsible for his death. Likewise to conduct a similar investigation into the cases of Aldo Bianzino, who died in similar circumstances in a prison in Perugia, Italy, in October 2007, and of other unclarified deaths and suicides that happened in the past years.
We urgently ask the representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights to do whatever possible to inform the Italian Minister of Justice, Interior and Foreign Affairs of this situation, urging them to contact the family of Stefano Cucchi and give them a proper explanation of what happened in the period their beloved one was in police custody.
We also believe that it /is the duty of the Italian and European Union authorities to adopt just and effective drug laws. A society that criminalizes and kills people because of their life style, that tortures people because they consume a plant, can hardly be called civilised.
Please, put an end to this escalation that threatens to seriously damage the democratic image of Italy and the European Union.
Marisa Felicissimo, Belgium
Antonio Escobar, Spain
Fredrick Polak, The Netherlands
Jorge Roque, Portugal
Encod Steering Committee