The failed amnesty of the ‘years of lead' in Italy: continuity and transformations between (de)politicisation and punitiveness

Journal article


Rossi, F. (2021). The failed amnesty of the ‘years of lead' in Italy: continuity and transformations between (de)politicisation and punitiveness. European Journal of Criminology.
AuthorsRossi, F.
Abstract

The ‘years of lead’ commonly refer in Italy to the decade of the 1970s, characterized by widespread conflictuality, use of violence for political aims and harsh state repression of political activism. Political violence has been primarily dealt with normal and exceptional means of criminal justice, yet debates on amnesty and reconciliation have been recurrent over the years. This article historically retraces the debates on amnesty and pardon for politically motivated offences to show how they have been shaped by changing national and international contexts. On the one hand, the ‘failed amnesty’ reflects the long lasting repressive approach adopted by the Italian state to address the question of the 1970s’ political violence and the reluctance to acknowledge its collective and political character. On the other hand, this paper argues that beyond the apparent continuity of a punitive approach, the gradual disappearance of amnesty from political debates in the 1990s-2000s is symptomatic of a more paradigmatic shift resulting from the combination of different factors and trends, such as the transformation of the Italian political landscape in the early 1990s, the emergence and affirmation of a new punitive discourse, as well as the increasing delegitimation of amnesties in transitional settings. Thus, through a specific case-study, this article draws links between criminal justice and penal trends, political transformations and developments in transitional justice, and consequently intends to contribute to the discussion of the concept of punitiveness and the effects of the expanding international criminal law on the treatment of politically motivated offences.

KeywordsPolitical violence; Amnesty; Italy; Punitiveness and clemency; Penality
Year2021
JournalEuropean Journal of Criminology
PublisherSAGE Publications
ISSN1477-3708
Publication process dates
Accepted09 Mar 2021
Deposited18 Mar 2021
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Open
Additional information

This is the accepted version of an article published by Sage Publications.

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