Statement by Italy delivered by Prof. Francesco Viganò, Judge of the Constitutional Court, at the High Level Debate of the UN General Assembly to mark the 15th Anniversary of the Adoption of the UNCAC —
Thank you, Mister President.
Ladies and Gentlemen
When the Convention was signed in Mérida, the anticorruption record of Italy was in many respects unsatisfactory. Thanks to the UNCAC obligations, the situation in my country is profoundly changed, as it has been acknowledged during the first and second review cycles.
With regards to repression of corruption, many shortcomings of the previous legislation have been solved. Trading in influence and bribery in the private sector have been both criminalised; the limitation periods regarding corruption have been significantly extended. On the enforcement side, several investigations and prosecutions on corruption charges have been carried out in recent years against natural and legal persons.
The most significant achievements, though, have taken place in the field of the prevention of corruption. A 2012 Law established a National Anti-Corruption Authority in Italy, a new Code of Public Contracts provides for a rigorous framework for public procurement. New laws have been enacted on transparency, so as to allow citizens’ access to all records, data and documents of the public administration, and on whistleblowing, strengthening the protection of persons reporting corrupt behaviours.
Great importance in recent years has been given to anticorruption compliance models in private and public entities: corporations are encouraged to adopt an effective compliance model by the prospect of being rewarded through the exemption from criminal liability if their executives or officers are convicted for corruption, provided they can prove to have implemented such a model before the offence was committed.
The efforts made by Italy with regards to asset recovery have been also remarkable. On the one hand, law enforcement tools to recover the relevant proceeds of corruption at the outcome of a criminal trial have been enhanced. On the other hand, the possibility of a non-conviction based confiscation, in line with Art. 54 of the Convention, has been extended to tackle illicit and unexplained wealth, when the court has reason to believe that the owner was involved in corruption. A recent law has also introduced more transparent norms for the judicial administration of the recovered assets and for their re-use and disposal for socially valuable goals.
These accomplishments pair with a robust engagement of Italy in the multilateral fora: for example, we strive to provide rationale for a new paradigm of corruption measurement taking into account more reliable indicators and criteria based on experience. In the same vein, at the last Conference of States Parties Italy tabled a Resolution on corruption and sport, adopted by consensus.
However, many are the challenges still before the International Community and Italy in particular
Special attention should be paid to those crimes that are closely related to the offences mentioned in the UNCAC. The links between corruption, organised crime and money laundering deserve to be better assessed, with a view to shaping a holistic strategy combining the goals of the Palermo Convention and those set by the UNCAC.
Before closing, allow me, Mister President, to underline – in my capacity both as a representative of Italy and a Constitutional judge – what I think is a critical point for any advancement of anticorruption policies. An effective prevention and repression of corruption, as well as a working policy of asset recovery, shall always abide by human rights. Our laudable zeal in sanctioning corruption and poor ethics standards, should not lead us to adopt rules and practices of dubious compatibility with human rights and fundamental fair trial guarantees. Such rules could be held illegitimate for this reason by national or international courts; and this could negatively affect judicial cooperation. Legal tools such as non-conviction based confiscation – which by the way, the Italian experience shows to be a highly effective instrument in the fight against corruption and organised crime – should be thoroughly considered by the international community, with a view to reaching agreements on common standards of protection of human rights in the implementation of those measures.
Promoting the rule of law and human rights is not only an imperative of justice; it is also a pre-condition for the effectiveness of the fight against corruption, to which all the State Parties to the UNCAC, and Italy for sure, are strongly committed.
Thank you very much, Mister President and all of you, for your attention.