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Penal laws of the Vatican modified

· Motu Proprio of Pope Francis ·

A number of changes and specifications have been introduced to the legal system of Vatican City State, including: the abolition of life imprisonment, replacing it with a sentence of 30 to 35 years; the specification of due process within a reasonable time and the presumption of innocence of the accused; the definition of the crime of divulging information and documents; a broader definition of the category of crimes against minors, with detailed particulars of the cases in point. These measures are contained in three new laws, announced on 11 July, with which the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State has legislated on Supplementary Norms on Criminal Law Matters, on Amendments to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code and on General Provisions on Administrative Sanctions.

The reform introduced by Benedict XVI with the laws promulgated at the end of 2010 to endow the Holy See with the necessary means to prevent and fight crime and to foster international judiciary cooperation with regard to money laundering and terrorism, is being carried ahead. As Giuseppe Dalla Torre, Judge of the Vatican Tribunal, explained in his presentation of the innovations to journalists at a briefing in the Holy See Press Office, one need is to bring the criminal justice system into line with the numerous international conventions signed and ratified by the State, and to respond to the recommendations of the Moneyval Committee regarding the criminalization of new cases in point, the modernization of the general jurisdictional regulations, the redefinition of the system of international judicial cooperation, as well as the discipline of the administrative responsibility of juridical persons deriving from crime. With the introduction of laws on the latter, from now on the Vatican judge will also be able to investigate crimes and offences committed in all the bodies of the Curia and in the Vatican offices. The new laws are approved by Pope Francis who, with his Moto Proprio, expressly extends the penal jurisdiction of the juridical bodies of Vatican City State to the personnel of the Holy See with regard to offences mentioned in the aforesaid laws.

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