Constitutional Provisions

The criminal law of Italy is effectively incorporated as the law applicable in the Holy See,Arts. 7 and 8 of the Law of the Sources of Laws.which itself has six constitutional laws:

  • The Fundamental Law of the City of the Vatican 
  • Law of the Source of Laws 
  • Law on the Rights of Citizenship and Sojourn 
  • Law on Administrative Organisations 
  • Law on Economic, Commercial and Professional Organisation 
  • Law of Public Security.

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Not party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 N/A
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints No
CAT Optional Protocol 1 Not party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Not party

Regional Treaties

Adherence to Regional Human Rights Treaties
1950 European Convention on Human Rights Not party

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

Article 1 of the Law of Public Security provides that:

The governor watches over the maintenance of public order, the security of the citizens, the integrity of their persons, the protection of their property, the safeguarding of their possessions, and the public hygiene and morality. 

With this purpose, either in the execution of the laws and regulations or on the occasion of events not provided for in the general provisions, he will take the measures he deems advisable. 

In accordance with Article 3(1) of the Law VIII on the Supplementary Norms on Criminal Law Matters of 11 July 2013: 

The public official having judicial police or law enforcement functions, as well as whoever performs in an official capacity a similar or analogous role, and whoever, under their instigation or with their consent or acquiescence, inflicts severe pain or suffering whether physical or mental, to a person in order to obtain from him or a third person some information or a confession, or to punishing him for an act that he or a third person has committed, or is suspected of having committed, or to intimidate or coerce him or a third person, or for any other reason based on any kind of discrimination, is punished with five to ten years imprisonment. 

Under Article 3 of the 1929 Lateran Treaty (signed with then Italian premier, Benito Mussolini), in St Peter's Square, the Italian police are responsible for security and public order. In June 2019, the New Law on the Government of Vatican City State entered into force. Article 12 of the New Law provides as follows:

1. The Directorate of Security and Civil Protection Services takes care of security and public order, organizes and coordinates civil protection. It includes the Gendarmerie Corps and the Fire Brigade Corps.
2. The Commander of the Gendarmerie Corps may be assigned to the Management.
3. The Direction carries out the activities requested by the Holy See, also in relation to the safety of the Supreme Pontiff, in collaboration with the Pontifical Swiss Guard.

According to the State of the Vatican City CCCLXXXIV: 

The Corps of the Gendarmerie exercises the institutional functions of police, including border, judicial and tax police, to promote the security of the places and people, the maintenance of public order and the prevention and repression of confessions. Regarding its specific attributions, the Body works in contact with the Organs judicial authorities and the competent authorities of the Holy See.

Police Oversight

There is no independent oversight body for law enforcement agencies in the Holy See.


There is no caselaw at global, regional, or national level concerning unlawful use of force by law enforcement officials of the Holy See.


1929 Lateran Treaty

New Law on the Government of the Vatican City State (Italian original)