Popular protests have been taking place in Venezuela at least since 2014: their targets are the Government’s crackdown on civil and political liberties and the grave economic crisis afflicting the country, which has inter alia resulted in skyrocketing inflation and a persistent lack of essential goods.
In December 2015, parliamentary elections were held and won by the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), a coalition of parties opposing President Nicolás Maduro and his United Socialist Party (PSUV). In the following months, President Maduro declared the state of emergency and assumed more powers, while the MUD started to collect signatures for a referendum to remove him from office before the natural end of his term. In October 2016, however, the National Electoral Council suspended the referendum process; new demonstrations against this decision took place.
Italian Governments have long considered human rights protection as a fundamental guiding principle of their foreign policy. In a number of cases, Italy has thus used its diplomatic pressure to criticise human rights infringements committed by other States. In this area, Italy has increasingly acted in coordination with its European partners and in the framework of relevant international organisations, from the United Nations (UN) to the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe (CoE). Moreover, Italy has often referred explicitly to international human rights treaties to remind other countries of their legal obligations in the field.
At the beginning of 2016, the Italian national Giulio Regeni was murdered in Cairo in unclear circumstances. This soon became a major issue in the foreign policy of Italy and a cause of tension in its relations with Egypt. The event is here illustrated through the accounts given by the members of the Italian Government themselves, on the occasion of official reports to the Parliament. At the same time, some important political and legal aspects are also briefly addressed.
NEW YORK, 71st GENERAL ASSEMBLY MEETING ON THE REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE, 27 OCTOBER 2016
On 27 October 2016, at the 71st General Assembly Meeting on the Report of the International Court of Justice, Minister Plenipotentiary Andrea Tiriticco, Director for International Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reaffirmed Italy’s abidance by the international rule prohibiting the use of force in inter-State relations. In his words:
During 2016, the Italian Government was often questioned before the Parliament about arms exports from Italy to countries where either a conflict was occurring or international norms were being violated. The statements by the different members of the Government highlighted a heterogeneous practice, contingent upon different variables, some of which related to the presence of international measures and others to political considerations of the Government itself.
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 485th MEETING, 18 SEPTEMBER 2015.
On 18 September 2015, during a meeting of the Chamber of Deputies, the Under-Secretary of State to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Mr Gianclaudio Bressa, answered a parliamentary question on the opening of humanitarian channels for migratory flows as well as possible measures to curb human trafficking. Mr Bressa stressed the need to achieve a European right to asylum and described the measures adopted by the Italian government. He stated:
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 478th MEETING, 9 SEPTEMBER 2015.
On 9 September 2015, during a question time at the Italian Chamber of Deputies, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Paolo Gentiloni Silveri, expressed the position of the Government on the initiatives aimed at suspending the Dublin III Regulation. The interrogating Member of Parliament had asked if and when the Italian Government will formally propose the suspension or the overcoming of the Dublin Regulation in order to establish a European Right of Asylum. The Minister stated: