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Lorena Fornasir and Gian Andrea Franchi

HRDs, Migrant Rights Defenders
La Linea d'Ombra

Lorena Fornasir, a 68 year old psychotherapist and Gian Andrea Franchi, an 84 year old retired teacher are both active migrants and refugee rights defenders. Since 2015, Lorena Fornasir and Gian Andrea Franchi have been welcoming and providing medicine, clothes, water and food to migrants in the square in front of Trieste’s main train station. In 2019 they founded "La Linea d'Ombra" in Trieste, a volunteer organisation that raises funds to support migrants in need. The migrant rights defenders and volunteers are known for their “feet washing” tradition: as migrants arrive to Trieste after having walked barefoot for miles, in dire conditions, their feet are often bleeding and in need of medical treatment. Lorena Fornasir and Gian Andrea Franchi frequently cross the border and provide basic assistance, such as food and clothes, to migrants stuck at the Croatian border and in informal camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Freedom of expression and assembly are constitutionally guaranteed and generally respected in Italy. However, the Italian police has been accused on numerous occasions of excessive use of force against peaceful protesters and activists.

In July 2001, during the G8 summit in Genoa, more than 300 police officers violently attacked 100 activists and some journalists who were staying at a school for the night. Protesters were then brought to a nearby police station, where they were beaten again. More than 60 people were seriously injured. Twelve years later, 17 officers were convicted of fraud for planting false evidence and others were convicted for excessive use of violence, but none of them went to jail and all the sentences were reduced. In July 2015, in a landmark decision, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy for using “torture” against protesters. However, the crime of torture is yet to be introduced into the Criminal Code of Italy. Environmental, minority rights and migrants rights defenders have been also identified as at-risk group.