Throughout 2018, the situation in Venezuela remained highly volatile. In May, snap presidential elections took place and the incumbent President, Mr Nicolás Maduro, declared victory; however, the election results were recognized neither by the opposition (which had mostly boycotted the poll) nor by a large part of the international community. On 5 August 2018, following an alleged drone attack against Maduro, a further crackdown on opposition leaders ensued. In the meantime, a report by the International Monetary Fund estimated a 1,370,000 percent inflation by the end of the year, while the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees reported that 1.5 million Venezuelans had left the country since the beginning of the crisis and the number of asylum applications had spiked.
The year 2019 started with the official inauguration of Maduro’s second term as President of Venezuela, on 10 January. On 23 January, however, Mr Juan Guaidó, President of the National Assembly (the Venezuelan Parliament) and leader of the opposition, declared himself interim President of Venezuela by relying on Article 233 of the Constitution, which attributes the interim presidency to the head of the National Assembly should the President become “permanently unavailable to serve”. Venezuela thus plunged into political and institutional chaos.
On 27 October 2017, the Presidente della Repubblica Italiana (President of the Italian Republic, hereinafter President), Mr. Sergio Mattarella, refused to promulgate the law drafted and approved by the Parliament titled “Misure per contrastare il finanziamento delle imprese produttrici di mine antipersona, di munizioni e sub munizioni a grappolo” (Measures to combat the financing of firms manufacturing antipersonnel landmines, cluster munitions and submunitions, hereinafter Law no. 57). In the Italian constitutional system, in order for a law to enter into force the President has to promulgate it, according to Article 73 of the Constitution. To this end, Article 74 confers the President the power to require that the law undergoes a new debate in the two Houses of the Parliament, expressing the reasons for such a request. As explained in the opinion sent to the Senato della Repubblica (Senate of the Republic) and the Camera dei Deputati (Chamber of Deputies), the President identified two problematic features of the law, which are here illustrated.
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.
UN MEETING “MOVING AWAY FROM THE DEATH PENALTY: NATIONAL LEADERSHIP”, NEW YORK, 25 SEPTEMBER 2014.
On 25 September 2014, at a High-level event of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly organized by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights together with Italy and other three States, the Italian Prime Minister, Mr Matteo Renzi, delivered a speech on the death penalty and on the need to support a moratorium to stop it and eventually to abolish it. After mentioning Italy’s leading role in the abolitionist campaign (with the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Leopold II, having renounced to capital punishment already in 1786), he said that Italians
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 286th MEETING, 9 SEPTEMBER 2014.
On 9 September 2014, on the occasion of an urgent speech at the Chamber of Deputies, the Minister of the Interior, Mr Angelino Alfano, commented on international terrorism motivated by religion. The Minister discussed the dangerous and aggressive nature of the Islamic State and addressed the phenomenon of foreign fighters.
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 122nd MEETING, 20 DECEMBER 2013.
On 20 November 2013, the President of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Enrico Letta, gave an urgent report before the Chamber of Deputies on the so-called Datagate, the scandal initiated by the declarations of Edward Snowden. Mr Letta described how the US National Security Agency (NSA) could monitor the flow of metadata of Internet communications at a global level (PRISM Programme). Another surveillance programme (Tempora) would have been established by the British intelligence to monitor communications in submarine fibre-optic cables. In light of this background, he stated:
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SIXTH COMMITTEE (LXVIII Session), DEBATE ON THE REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL LAW COMMISSION ON THE WORK OF ITS SIXTY-FIFTH SESSION (UN Doc. A/68/10), 29 OCTOBER 2013.
On 29 October 2013, before the Sixth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, Min. Plenipotentiary Andrea Tiriticco, Director for Legal Affairs of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, expressed some remarks on the long-term programme of work of the International Law Commission, with reference inter alia to the topic of the Rule of Law. He stated:
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, SIXTH COMMITTEE (LXVIII Session, XIV Meeting), THE SCOPE AND APPLICATION OF UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION, 18 October 2013.
On 18 October 2013, during the debate in the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly on the Scope and Application of Universal Jurisdiction, the Legal Adviser of the Permanent Mission of Italy, Mr Salvatore Zappalà, submitted the comments of his delegation supporting a more thorough analysis of the topic by the Committee, and also the possible involvement of the International Law Commission. After expressing satisfaction for the unanimous recognition of the principle of universal jurisdiction as a fundamental tool in ensuring that perpetrators of heinous crimes are brought to justice, he stated that:
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 54th MEETING, 16 JULY 2013.
On 16 July 2013, the deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Lapo Pistelli, explained before the Chamber of Deputies the Government’s view on the manifest violation of human rights contained in the recent Russian legislation against the LGBT community. He outlined the risks that such situations pose, the actions taken in the case and the role of EU organs and international organizations in the light of the universality of human rights.