Italy’s centre-right government has rushed through controversial tough measures against rape in the aftermath of a spate of high-profile sex attacks blamed on immigrants.
Three rapes last weekend caused outrage across the country, prompted calls for new sanctions and fuelled a debate on illegal immigration.
One of the measures outlined by Italy’s Interior Minister Roberto Maroni was the creation of groups of citizen volunteers to patrol urban areas. These would have the authority to alert police to suspected criminal activity.
The move came after groups of self-styled and unregulated vigilantes appeared in several towns, alarming police and judicial officials.
The minister stressed the volunteers would be unpaid and unarmed and would be controlled by the police. He said the idea had found favour with police officers who “work in the streets every day”.
The governmental decree also sets a mandatory life
sentence for rapes that result in death, speeds up trials, and gives free legal assistance to victims.
Some on the left have voiced concern that the measures will be used to unfairly target illegal immigrants.
Italy to allow citizen patrols to combat rateItaly to allow citizen patrols to combat rape