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The Global Legal Monitor is an online publication from the Law Library of Congress covering legal news and developments worldwide. It is updated frequently and draws on information from official national legal publications and reliable press sources. You can find previous news by searching the Global Legal Monitor.

Italy: Legislation on Support for the Disabled

(July 27, 2016) On June 25, 2016, legislation establishing measures for the benefit of persons with disabilities entered into effect in Italy. (Law No. 112 of June 22, 2016, Provisions on Assistance Benefitting Persons with Serious Disabilities Who Are Deprived of Family Support (Law No. 112), GAZETTA UFFICIALE, No. 146 (June 24, 2016), NORMATTIVA (in Italian).) The new Law provides for the assistance, care, and protection of persons with serious disabilities, whether caused by natural aging or medical conditions, and who are deprived of family support because they are either missing both parents or their parents are not able to provide adequate support. (Id. art. 1(2).)

The stated purpose of the new legislation is to promote the well-being, full social inclusion, and autonomy of persons with disabilities through the implementation of certain key principles set forth in the Italian Constitution: inviolable rights of the person, social dignity and equality before the law, the duty and right of parents to support, raise, and educate their children, health as a fundamental right of the individual and as a collective interest, and the rights of citizens unable to work and of persons with disabilities to welfare support. (Id. art. 1(1); Constitution of the Italian Republic (Dec. 27, 1947), arts. 2, 3, 30, 32, & 38, respectively, Parliamentary Information, Archives and Publications Office of the Senate Service for Official Reports and Communication.)

The legislation also aims at implementing related provisions of the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights (2000 O.J. (C364) 1, EUROPA) and of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of 2006 (A/RES/61/106 (Dec. 13, 2006), Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for  Human Rights website) ratified by Italy by Law No. 18 of March 3, 2009. (Law No. 112, art. 1(1).)

Social Benefits to Be Guaranteed Throughout the Country 

The law requires that government at all levels ensure basic health services and social care as needed by persons with serious disabilities, based on available resources and according to applicable legislation. This duty may be carried out through collaboration between municipalities. (Id. art. 2(1).)

New Financial Mechanisms 

The new legislation creates mechanisms to facilitate its financial goals, including through contributions by private individuals, insurance policies, trusts and other special funds, and contracts for the custody and administration of a beneficiary’s assets by another person or a non-profit organization. (Id. art. 1(3).)

The law creates a Fund for the Assistance of Persons with Serious Disabilities Who Are Deprived of Family Support within the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies. (Id. art. 3(1).) The initial budget of the Fund is €90 million (about US$99.1 million) for the year 2016, €38.3 million (about US$42.1 million) for the year 2017, and €56.1 million (about US$61.7 million) from the year 2018 onwards. (Id.) The specific requirements to access Fund payments will be established by a decree of the Ministry to be enacted within six months of the Law’s effective date. (Id. art. 3(2).) Regions, local entities, quasi-governmental entities, and private parties with proven experience in providing assistance to disabled persons may also contribute to the Fund. (Id. art. 4(2).) The geographic regions must define their own criteria for the allocation and withdrawal of funds for individual beneficiaries. (Id.)

The objectives of the Fund are to:

(a) strengthen programs aimed at the de-institutionalization of care for the beneficiaries, through giving home care or care in apartment groups that reproduce the housing conditions and relationships of a family home while also including the best of new technologies, in order to prevent beneficiaries from suffering social isolation;

(b) facilitate the temporary residence of beneficiaries in housing outside the family home in emergency situations, in accordance with the will of the persons with serious disabilities, or when that is not possible to ascertain, the will of their parents or guardians;

(c) implement family-type accomodation solutions and co-housing, which may include the payment of purchase costs, leases, renovations, and installation of the necessary structures and equipment in existing housing, including modalities for mutual assistance among persons with disabilities; and

(d) develop skills for the management of daily life, in order to have the beneficiaries achieve the highest possible level of autonomy. (Id. art. 4(1)(a)-(d).)

Other financial instruments include trusts, target bonds, and special funds composed of assets that are encumbered by liens for the benefit of persons with serious disabilities. (Id. art. 6(1).) These financial instruments are eligible for tax exemptions, provided that certain conditions are met, among them, that their acts of incorporation or bylaws expressly state that their purpose is to benefit persons with serious disabilities, including the need to reduce the risk of their institutionalization. (Id. arts. 6(2) & 6(3)(b).) Other corporate and registration requirements applicable to these financial instruments are also established in the Law, including obligations of trustees and managers. (Id. art. 6(3)(c)-(h).)

In the case of death of the trust beneficiary prior to the death of the trustor or the person who has instituted the special funds as established according to the new legislation, the transfer of assets and rights to the trust beneficiaries enjoys the same tax exemptions accorded to succession and donations regulated in the Law. (Id. art. 6(4).)  Municipalities may establish reduced rates or exemptions from municipal taxes applicable to the beneficiaries only as long as such measures do not create new or increased burdens on the public finances. (Id. art. 6(8).)

Insurance Policies for Persons with Serious Disabilities 

Effective on December 31, 2016, the new legislation raises the insurance premiums for insurance plans that cover the risk of death of persons with serious disabilities. (Id. art. 5(1).) The legislation appropriates government funds to offset the loss of revenue to insurers resulting from these new provisions. (Id.)

Public Education Campaign

The President of the Council of Ministers must begin an information campaign to create awareness of the provisions of the new law and other forms of public support for persons with serious disabilities, so that such persons may take advantage of the new mechanisms and instruments created by the Law, and to make the general public aware of the benefits of social inclusion of persons with serious disabilities. (Id. art. 7(1).)

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Italy: Legislation on Administrative Agency Coordination

(July 27, 2016) On July 3, 2016, new legislation entered into effect in Italy concerning an administrative coordinating mechanism known as a “conference of services” (conferenza di servizi), intended to simplify and expedite the procedures of such conferences.  (Legislative Decree No. 127 of June 30, 2016, Provisions for the Reorganization Concerning the Services Conference, Implementing Article 2 of Law No. 124 of August 7, 2015 (L.D.  No. 127), GAZETTA UFFICIALE, No. 153 (July 2, 2016), NORMATTIVA (in Italian).)

A conference of services is convened when multiple government agencies are involved in a single administrative matter in order to coordinate decision-making and to ensure that all relevant offices participate. (Id. art. 1(2); Conferenza di servizi, TRECCANI (an online Italian encyclopedia) (last visited, July 26, 2016).)

The new legislation provides for the calling of service conferences to address different administrative areas, such as infrastructure projects and projects subject to environmental impact assessments.  (Id. art. 1(3) & (4).) Among other things, the legislation sets forth procedural rules for meetings with respect to such matters as timelines, quora, purposes of a meeting, and meeting minutes.  (Id. art. 1(5)(2).)

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Indonesia: Legislator Calls for Review of Death Penalty

(July 27, 2016) On July 25, 2016, Benny K. Harman, the Deputy Chief of Indonesia’s House of Representatives’ Commission III, which has responsibility for legal affairs, human rights, and security, spoke about the use of the death penalty in the country. He called for a review of its effectiveness and of the fairness of judicial processes, particularly for those prisoners on death row due to convictions for drug crimes. He said “[t]he President needs to know that being decisive does not mean forgetting human values.” (House Members Divided on Death Penalty, JAKARTA POST (July 25, 2016).)

Another member of Commission III, Muhammad Syafi’i , supported the use of the death penalty, arguing that drug criminals posed a threat to the future generations of Indonesians and therefore should be executed. (Id.) Indonesia’s Attorney General has also supported the imposition of capital punishment. (Constance A. Johnson, Indonesia: Attorney General Affirms Need for Death Penalty, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Feb. 1, 2016).)

Scheduled Executions

Indonesia will soon carry out a third round of executions of drug convicts; previous rounds were carried out in January and April 2015 and included 14 convicts. (Id.; House Members Divided on Death Penalty, supra.) New executions have been scheduled to take place at some time after Idul Fitri, the formal end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan that fell on July 6 this year. The location will be the Nusakambangan prison island, in Central Java Province. (House Members Divided on Death Penalty, supra.) A religious leader from the town in which the prison is located, while not opposed to executions in general, had asked that executions not be carried out during Ramadan. (Agus Maryono, Cleric Calls on Govt Not to Carry Out Executions During Ramadhan, JAKARTA POST (May 30, 2016).)

Among those facing execution is Merri Utami, sentenced to death for carrying 1.1 kilos of heroin; she has been in prison since 2004 and was transferred to Nusakambangan prison on July 24. According to Moyanto, the head of the correctional division facility under the Law and Human Rights Ministry’s Central Java office, the transfer signals that although no date has yet been set, the executions in this round will likely take place in the next week. (Agus Maryono, Death-Row Convict Merri Utami Isolated in Special Cell in Nusakambangan, JAKARTA POST (July 24, 2016).) Utami is the only female inmate at the prison, where 50 of the 1,000 prisoners are facing capital punishment. (Id.)

Legislation on the Death Penalty

Indonesia’s Penal Code lists capital punishment as one of the penalties that can be applied to some crimes and specifies that it is to be carried out by firing squad. (Penal Code, arts. 10-11 (1982, as last amended May 19, 1999), REFWORLD.) It can be imposed for a wide variety of crimes, including the attempt to deprive the Indonesian President of life or liberty (id. art. 104), murder (id. art. 340), and theft when the action results in death or serious injury (id. art. 365 (4)).

Drug crimes are punished under a separate law on narcotics, with punishments including the death penalty. (Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia Nomor 35 Tahun 2009 Tentang Narkotika, Indonesian Narcotics Bureau website; Law of the Republic of Indonesia Number 35 Year 2009 About Narcotics, INDONESIA TRADE RULE BOOK.) Imposition of the death penalty for narcotics offenses has generated international criticism of Indonesia, particularly when foreigners have been convicted of those crimes. (Kelly Buchanan, FALQs: Execution of Drug Offenders in Indonesia, IN CUSTODIA LEGIS (May 27, 2015).)

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Brazil: Ten People Arrested on Suspicion of Terrorism

(July 26, 2016) On July 21, 2016, the Brazilian Federal Police arrested ten Brazilian nationals based on the recently enacted anti-terrorism law. (Lei No. 13.260, de 16 de Março de 2016 [Law 13,260 of March 16, 2016], PLANALTO; Eduardo Soares, Brazil: New Anti-Terrorism Law Enacted, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Apr. 15, 2016).) They are suspected of preparing to carry out terrorist acts during the Olympic Games now being held in Rio. (Lauro Jardim, Marcio Menasce, & Thiago Herdy, Polícia Federal prende dez suspeitos de preparem atos terroristas durante Olimpíada do Rio [Federal Police Apprehend Ten Persons Suspected of Preparing Terrorist Acts During the Olympics in Rio], O GLOBO (July 21, 2016).)

In a news conference, the Minister of Justice, Alexandre de Moraes, said that the Federal Police had been performing investigative work and detected the beginning of preparations for acts of terrorism. Moraes said the persons who were arrested had taken an oath of allegiance to the Islamic State over the Internet, were planning to buy a rifle (AK 47), and celebrated the recent terrorist attacks in France and the United States. The investigation found evidence the group advocates racial, gender, and religious intolerance and the use of weapons and guerrilla tactics to achieve their goals.  (Id.)

According to article 3 of Law No. 13,260, whoever promotes, creates, takes part in, or provides assistance to a terrorist organization, whether in person or through an intermediary, will be punished upon conviction with five to eight years in prison and a fine. (Lei 13.260, art. 3). Whoever performs acts to prepare for acts of terrorism will receive the same punishment. (Id. art. 5.)

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Singapore/Sri Lanka: Development Agreement Signed

(July 26, 2016) On July 18, 2016, Singapore and Sri Lanka concluded a Memorandum of Understanding on investment by Singaporean businesses in Sri Lanka. The pact was signed by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, a government agency, and the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development of Sri Lanka; it is the first MOU signed between Sri Lanka and an agency of the government of Singapore. The expectation is that investment from Singapore will help develop the Western Region Megapolis in Sri Lanka. (Sri Lanka, Singapore Ink Agreement to Develop Western Province, COLOMBO PAGE (July 18, 2016).)

Tan Soon Kim, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of IE Singapore, who signed the MOU for his country, stated, “[g]iven its accelerated growth, the Western Region Megapolis is a good first stop for Singapore companies to consider when doing business in Sri Lanka.” (Id.) He added that the agreement is a good platform for partnerships. (Id.)

According to Nihal Rupasinghe of the Sri Lankan Ministry, the Megapolis project is expected to create an “urban transformation” in the area of the capital city, with many investment opportunities. He stated that the MOU will increase cooperation between the Ministry and IE Singapore, making it easier for investors from Singapore to “participate in Sri Lanka’s growth.” (Id.)

The sectors open to investment from Singapore include:

  • master planning, urban design, and investments in industrial and tourism development zones;
  • port-related development and logistics services and infrastructure to build an Aero-Maritime Trade Hub;
  • technology for development of smart city infrastructure; and
  • development of the Central Business District of Colombo, including the restoration of historic buildings and strengthening the transport infrastructure. (Id.)

Megapolis Project

The Western Region Megapolis is a development plan initiated by the Government of Sri Lanka with the goal of tripling per capita income in the region; it is estimated that there will be 142 projects in the area over the next 15 years and that their value will be about US$40 billion. The target is an annual growth rate of 7-8% for the next four years. (Id.) The plan was submitted to the country’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, on December 30, 2016. (Megapolis Development Plan Presented to President, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka official website (last visited on July 22, 2016).) Sirisena said that all government offices will be involved in implementing the plan, noting that “[e]very ministry, department and government officer should fulfill their responsibilities in that regard, considering it as a prominent task.” (Id.)

The development plan for the Megapolis includes a trade hub, a central business district with at least 60 high-rise towers, a science and technology city, and rapid transit to alleviate traffic congestion. It is estimated that 2.1 million jobs would be created by instituting the plan. (Munza Mushtaq, Sri Lanka’s $40bn ‘Megapolis’ Plan Is Bold – but Achievable?, NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW (Mar. 10, 2016).)

Criticism of the Project

A spokesman for a former Sri Lankan President criticized the plan, noting that “[a]nyone can draw up beautiful and flamboyant proposals, but eventually it depends on commitment and enthusiasm for a project.” (Id.) He also disparaged the 15-year timeline, stating that the country needs to “set out something where targets are achieved yearly and not blankly in 15 years.” (Id.) Other points of concern over the viability of the project are Sri Lanka’s economic difficulties and the lack of assured financing to carry out the plan, together with the political “vulnerability” of the country. The current administration has been in power for only half a year. (Id.)

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