Defamation. Three draft bills under discussion in the Parliament

Two proposals were tabled by Senator Primo Di Nicola of M5S. One punishes vexatious lawsuits against journalists; the other extends their professional secrecy. A third proposal is by Valter Verini of Pd.

The Senators of the M5S presented two draft legislations on press freedom: one against rash disputes and another to protect the secrecy of journalists’ sources. The first signatory of both proposals is the newly-elected senator, the journalist Primo Di Nicola, who presented them at a press conference in the Senate on Thursday 25th October, attended by Senators Pierluigi Paragone and Elio Lannutti.

The present legislature is the fifth one that discusses proposals to reform legislation and statutes regarding information. Another draft bill on the same subject was presented to the Lower House by Valter Verini, a parliamentarian from the Democratic Party who has re-proposed that part of the reform on defamation which had already been passed by the Lower House in the previous legislature but not approved in a definitive way. Another proposal was announced by a member of the Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia) Giovanni Donzelli.

WHOEVER PURSUES A LAWSUIT RISKS HALF OF THE DAMAGES SOUGHT – The first of the two measures of the Five Star Movement provides for the amendment of Article 96 of the Civil Code and establishes that in cases of defamation through printed media, radio or television, where it can be shown that there was bad faith or gross negligence of those who initiated the civil proceedings for damages, the judge in a sentence which rejects the claim of the plaintiff can order the plaintiff to pay the legal costs and – on request of the party sued- the payment in favor of the defendant of a sum, determined on an equitable basis but not less than half the sum requested as compensation.

The second measure of the Five Star Movement (M5S) intends to amend article 200 of the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure, introducing full protection of the secrecy of the trusted sources of journalists (including publicists) eliminating the possibility that a judge can order the journalist to reveal the source of his/her information when this is considered essential for the purpose of proof of a crime.

Senator Primo Di Nicola said that “The proposals are open to the contribution of the other parliamentary groups.


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