End impunity! November 3rd, UNESCO-Ossigeno round table in Syracuse (Sicily)

On the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists with prosecutors and journalists from Italy, France, Greece, Malta, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom and  the participation of the Italian General Attorney Giovanni Salvi, the Anti-Mafia National Attorney Cafiero De Raho, and the threatened reporters Michele Albanese and Marilù Mastrogiovanni

OSSIGENO 27th October 2021 – What can be done concretely, to stop, or at least to limit, the increasingly frequent and dramatic intimidations and attacks on journalists in Italy and elsewhere in Europe? What about the rising number of intimidations and abuses, conducted through legal measures such as spurious lawsuits, which every year affect about 10.000 journalists in Italy alone? What’s the role of politicians, parliamentarians, and other governmental actors? In the face of these challenges, besides reporting the facts and calling for justice, what can newspapers and journalists do? But above all, how can the judiciary effectively put an end to impunity for those who, with violence and abuses, impede the free circulation of information by threatening and, in worse cases, by killing journalists for simply doing their job?

Answers to these questions will be given by journalists, legal experts and prosecutors from various countries who will participate in the roundtable discussion on “Justice and Freedom of the Press: How to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists” on Wednesday 3 November at 10:00 a.m. in Syracuse, Sicily. The conference is organized by the association Ossigeno per l’Informazione with the support of UNESCO and the Syracuse institute for criminal justice and Human Rights. The weekly L’Espresso is the media partner of the event. The Italian President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, awarded the round tale with the Medal of the President.

The roundtable will be held in the main lecture hall of the Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights (via Giuseppe Logoteta 27). The discussion will be broadcast in live streaming on YouTube and Zoom, with simultaneous translation available in both Italian and English, and on social media channels. More information can be found on www.ossigeno.info, including the latest updates and some documents and contributions related to the topics of the event.

The discussion will be opened by a greeting from the Attorney General of the Italian Supreme Court, Giovanni Salvi. Among the speakers, there will be: the national anti-mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho, the deputy prosecutor of Rome Eugenio Albamonte, the journalists Michele Albanese (under police escort since 2014), Marilù Mastrogiovanni (also under police protection), Alberto Spampinato (president of Ossigeno) and representatives from Greece, the Netherlands and Malta: European countries where three reporters have been murdered since 2017.

A broader perspective will be shared by Saba Ashraf, legal expert of the Media Defence, a London-based organization that provides specialized and free legal assistance in many countries to journalists facing serious difficulties (in Italy, in conjunction with Ossigeno).

UNESCO will be represented by Guilherme Canela, Chief of the Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists’ Section. On this occasion, the Italian translation of the Guidelines for Prosecutors on Cases of Crimes against Journalists, jointly published by UNESCO and the International Association of Prosecutors, will be launched. Experts, witnesses and representatives of institutions from various countries will provide written and video contributions.

Threats of violence and attacks against journalists create a climate of fear for media professionals, impeding the free circulation of information, opinions and ideas for all citizens. In Italy, the constant monitoring conducted by Ossigeno per l’Informazione from 2010 onwards has systematically documented the intimidations, threats and retaliation against many journalists and bloggers. Although the systematic recording of this dramatic scenario has led to the development of ideas and proposals, several of which have also been discussed at the legislative level, no countermeasures have been officially approved and implemented so far.

This roundtable discussion will therefore serve as an opportunity for prosecutors and journalists to define concrete solutions and share best practices on investigating and prosecuting threats and attacks against journalists. In doing so, it will aim at answering the central question of: what can be done to end impunity for crimes against journalists?




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