Credits to
Fabio Basile

The primary categories of culturally motivated crimes

Criminological and regulatory profiles*

Issue 6/2019

Abstract. Based on the assumption that Italy is increasingly characterised as a multicultural society, the author deals with culturally-motivated crimes, which represent a particular manifestation of immigrant criminality. Having specified the notion of “culture”, to be understood according to the definition provided by anthropological sciences, the author makes a further presupposition concerning criminal law which, more than other sectors of the legal system, is characterised by its ‘location’ and ‘provinciality’. After examining the definition of a culturally-motivated crime, the author questions how criminal law should react to such situations. After an overview of the main cases, the author finally reflects on the possible role of the so-called cultural defence.


SUMMARY: 1. Introductory remarks. – 2. First premise: Italy, like other European countries, is becoming an increasingly multicultural society. – 3. Second premise: criminal law, more than other sectors of the legal system, has the characteristic of being a “local” law with a “provincial” imprint. – 4. The definition of “culturally motivated crime” and related issues. – 5. The criminological sub-categories of culturally motivated crime. – 6. Some significant variables: level of offensiveness of the fact committed; nature of the cultural norm observed; biography of the agent. – 7. Final “big” question: why should cultural motivation work in favour of the accused-immigrant?


To read the Reflection, click on “open file”. 



* Report presented at the Scuola Superiore di Magistratura, Scandicci, 13 March 2019, as part of the course “Diritto penale e multiculturalismo”. The present text preserves the original colloquial tone of the report, and it is provided with a set of notes reduced to the essential. For more bibliographical and jurisprudential references, as well as for a wider argumentation of the theses supported here, it is suggested to read F. Basile, Immigrazione e reati culturalmente motivati. Il diritto penale nelle società multiculturali, Milano, 2010, p. 15 ff., As well as to F. Basile, Ultimissime dalla giurisprudenza in materia di reati culturalmente motivati, in Stato, Chiese e pluralismo confessionale, Rivista telematica (, n. 10, 2018.


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