Extradition to Italy should be stayed amid the coronavirus health crisis

The World Health Organization (“WHO”) has qualified the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, a pandemic representing a worldwide spread of the new disease.

At the time of writing, there have been hundreds of thousands of confirmed cases of Covid-19 worldwide. Italy accounts for most of the cases and deaths outside of China, with the numbers surging higher by the hour. The outbreak is putting the network of hospitals under colossal strain, with some of them already having reached full capacity.

On 8 and 9 March 2020, violent riots broke out in two-dozen Italian prisons, resulting in the death of 13 inmates and the injuring of 40 correctional officers. The unrest was sparked by the emergency restrictions imposed amid the coronavirus outbreak, including restricting contacts with the outside world through limitations on visits.

While the authorities managed to bring the situation under control, the riots have exposed legitimate health-care concerns related to the risk of an outbreak of the infection in prisons. These concerns are further boosted by the issues of overcrowding, lack of hygiene and insufficient health care which notoriously affect Italian prison establishments.

When confronted with the CPT’s recommendations, the measures adopted thus far by the Italian Government with a view to contain the risk of a potential outbreak of the infection in prison facilities appear to be widely insufficient.

In the absence of proactive measures to reduce the prison population, the spread of the infection is extremely difficult to contain in overcrowded facilitiesItaly already experimented the difficulty of containing the spread of infectious diseases with the outbreak of TBC in several prison facilities across the country. Hand sanitizers are in principle banned due to their alcoholic content and multi-occupancy cells leave little room for social distancing or similar recommendations experts made to curb the spread. Many prisons in Italy also deal with systemic shortage of water and dire hygienic conditions. Seemingly, IPDs are still lacking in most prisons and correctional officers are not screened upon entry.

Reasonably, the pandemic will run its course with time. How much time no one knows yet. For the time being, as far as extradition proceedings are concerned, the most realistic solution would be to adjourn all unheard matters and to halt transfers that have already been authorized, as courts are seemingly doing in Ireland.

The measures adopted by the Italian Government and the repercussions of the coronavirus crisis on extradition proceedings are further discussed in the original blog entry published on eXtradando (here).

For further information, contact Avv. Giulia Borgna (g.borgna@saccuccipartners.com).

Junior Associate