Corona Triage

Triage – this is the sorting of patients in groups to be treated preferentially or subordinately when the mass of patients vastly exceeds the available resources. It has always been a delicate and stressful procedure. The Italian Society for Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care Medicine (SIAARTI) has recently given recommendations to intensive care physicians who are currently no longer able to provide lung ventilators to all Covid-19 patients in need. The aim of those recommendations was to relieve the practitioners of the burden of taking personal responsibility for the selection decisions and to make the criteria explicit and communicable. The criteria, or so the authors propose, should also be made accessible to those affected and to their families to maintain trust in the public health service. If the criteria are now made public, one must however be allowed to comment on them. This is what I intend to do here.

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Corona-Triage

Triage – das ist die Sortierung von Patienten in Gruppen vor- und nachrangig zu Behandelnder bei einem die verfügbaren Ressourcen weit übersteigenden Massenanfall von Bedürftigen. Das ist schon immer ein heikler und belastender Vorgang gewesen. Die italienische Gesellschaft für Anästhesie, Analgesie, Reanimations- und Intensivmedizin (SIAARTI) hat den Intensivmedizinern, die derzeit nicht mehr allen bedürftigen Covid-19-Patienten Beatmungsgeräte bereitstellen können, dazu kürzlich Empfehlungen an die Hand gegeben. Man wolle auf diesem Wege die Praktiker davon entlasten, die Auswahlentscheidungen persönlich verantworten zu müssen, und man wolle die Kriterien explizit und kommunikabel machen. Wenn die Kriterien öffentlich gemacht werden, muss man sie freilich auch kommentieren dürfen. Das möchte ich hier tun.

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Coronavirus Emergency and Public Law Issues: An Update on the Italian Situation

The emergency caused by the “new” Coronavirus disease (that we discussed here) reached a new peak in Italy in the last few days, since cases have tripled compared to just a couple of days ago. Italy is now the second most affected country after China. This situation induced Italian public authorities to take new, stricter measures to try to contain the expansion of the virus. From a constitutional law perspective, the Coronavirus sheds light on the need to reconsider Italy’s “emergency constitution” .

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The Island of Hope in a Sea of Misery

On 17 January 2020, the Italian Court of Cassation (‘Court’) ruled that Carola Rackete, captain of the Sea-Watch 3, was not criminally liable for hitting an Italian Guardia di Finanza vessel and allowing 40 shipwrecked to disembark in Lampedusa in July 2019. The judgment is remarkable for its unequivocal stance on the right to disembark.

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Private (Transnational) Power without Authority

On 9 September 2019 Facebook banned from its platforms all pages and profiles related to the Italian far-right organization “CasaPound”, for the violation of its Community Standard no. 12 (hate speech and incitement to violence). On 11 December 2019, the Tribunal of Rome (ToR) adopted the precautionary measure ordering Facebook Ireland Ltd. to restore the pages and their content and to pay the losses. The decision raises significant issues in several respects and might serve as a model to courts beyond Italy.

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The Italian Constitutional Court Opens Up to Hear the Voice of Civil Society

On January 8 2020, the Italian Constitutional Court gave civil society a voice on the issues discussed before it. The Court amended the regulations governing the conduct of proceedings before it and puts itself in a position where it is able take account of expert opinions as well as civil society stakeholders.

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Doch noch ein Verfassungs­referendum in Italien

Die Verkleinerung des italienischen Parlaments wurde im vergangen Oktober beschlossen, jedoch haben sich knapp vor Ablauf der Frist genügend Parlamentarier zusammengeschlossen, um die Entscheidung doch dem Wahlvolk durch ein Verfassungsreferendum zu überlassen. Die traditionelle Scheu der italienischen Wähler vor Verfassungsänderungen dürfte diesmal durch eine Annahme dieses „Reförmchens“ höchstwahrscheinlich überwunden werden. Nichtdestotrotz bestätigt das Vorgehen die Richtigkeit einer Verfassungsbestimmung, die für konstitutionelle Novellierungen einen breiten Konsens vorsieht, damit die Verfassung nicht Spielball der Tagespolitik wird.

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Shying Away from Strasbourg

Last week, the Italian Constitutional Court published its reasoning on a judgment regarding the so-called ergastolo ostativo (life sentence without parole). The challenged provision excludes persons convicted of serious crimes – primarily mafia-type – from a series of benefits (for example, permits and conditional release) in the event that they do not want to collaborate with the authorities. Italy’s Constitutional Court now held that this provision is not in line with the constitution but missed a chance to give full effect to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

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Constitution Before Administration

On 5 December 2019, Italy’s Constitutional Court nullified regional legislation which made it extremely difficult for religious minority groups to set up places of worship. The provisions in question vested the administrative authorities with nearly unfettered discretion in deciding on the approval of applications. The Constitutional Court has now made clear that the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion cannot be circumvented by administrative procedures.

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Menschenrechte im Mittelmeer

Was bedeutet es Rechte zu haben? Diese Frage bekommt drängende Relevanz, wenn es um die Reichweite menschenrechtlicher Verantwortung geht, so im Fall S.S. und andere gegen Italien, der vor dem Europäischen Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte anhängig ist. Der EGMR hat zu entscheiden, inwiefern die Unterstützung der libyschen Küstenwache und Koordination von Rettungsaktionen eine Verantwortung Italiens nach der Europäischen Menschenrechtskonvention auslöst.

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