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Home » Archive » May The Law Rule The Past? What If The Ecthr Had Decided Berlusconi’s Case

Franco Peirone
May The Law Rule The Past? What If The Ecthr Had Decided Berlusconi’s Case
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In a long-awaited judgment, the European Court of Human Rights has decided not to decide on Berlusconi’s disqualification from the Italian Parliament. The case regarded the Italian anticorruption legislation that prohibits convicted individuals from sitting in Parliament, and its conformity with the human right to not be subject to retroactive criminal sanction – Article 7(1) European Convention of Human Rights. The former Prime Minister of Italy claimed his disqualification fell under the latter, and therefore the new legislation should not have been applied to his criminal conduct that predated its adoption. However, the Italian Government maintained that the measure was administrative law, thus it was duly applied in Berlusconi’s case. The Strasbourg Court took a long time to decide on the case. Meanwhile, Berlusconi was rehabilitated through the Italian legal system, getting back his right to stand for election. The analysis the European Court of Human Rights should have undertaken would have provided a welcome clarification on the relationship between the rule of law concept and its temporal application. This article aims to accomplish this task with a simple conclusion: a backward-looking law is not only possible, but sometimes even necessary for the sake of rule of law.

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