MFRR will organize a press freedom mission in Italy
Safety of journalists and legal threats against meda in the spotlight
From April 4 to 6, the International Press Institute (IPI) will join partner organizations of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) in Italy for a fact-finding mission focusing on two main topics: the safety of journalists and state protection measures on the one hand, and SLAPPs against journalists and the need for comprehensive legislative reforms to the framework of defamation and media freedom on the other.
Together with local partners, including the Italian National Federation of Journalists (FNSI), the journalists’ association Articolo 21 and the Chamber of Journalists, the MFRR delegation will address these issues from different angles and with a variety of stakeholders.
The Italian media freedom landscape is full of contrasts and contradictions and the mission will explore the lights and shadows of the media freedom situation in the country.
As documented on Mapping media freedom, the safety of journalists is more than ever under threat in EU Member States and candidate countries. Meanwhile, the Italian state’s coordination system that monitors intimidation against journalists and decides on their protection measures is one of the good practices highlighted in the European Commission’s report. Recommendation on the Safety of Journalists.
During the mission, the MFRR delegation will meet officials from the Ministry of the Interior responsible for analyzing threats and protecting journalists. An official hearing is also planned at the parliamentary anti-mafia commission of inquiry to discuss with the deputies of the sub-commission. Mafia, journalists and media.
The delegation will also meet journalists under threat in Campania, a region with a worrying number of reporters under police protection. This visit also aims to show solidarity with a neglected region in Italy, where the media, institutions and citizens are under pressure from organized crime and where local journalism is a bulwark of resistance and civic engagement.
The mission will also follow up on two decisions of the Constitutional Court concerning the abolition of prison sentences for convictions for defamation in the press. In 2020 as in 2021, the Court called on Parliament to legislate and find a balance between freedom of expression and the right to defend one’s reputation. This invitation has not yet been followed by Parliament. By meeting the judge rapporteur who took the decisions and the members of Parliament, the MFRR delegation will examine why this is so and what measures are planned to achieve such a reform.
Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) will be the focus of a closed event organized by the FNSI with journalists, lawyers, union members and journalists’ associations. With these stakeholders, the MFRR will discuss the impact of malicious prosecution on the daily activity of a journalist in Italy and the upcoming legislative and policy measures that are designed by the European Commission to address the issue.
Finally, media capture will take center stage in a discussion hosted by the Chamber of Journalists, where MFRR delegates will hear critical cases related to low pay and other problematic working conditions faced by journalists, and media capture media. This meeting will also be an opportunity to present initiatives in favor of independent journalists and video reporters.
This mission was coordinated by the Rapi on media freedomd Answer (MFRR), a European mechanism that tracks, monitors and responds to press and media freedom violations in EU Member States and candidate countries.