Imprisonment for libel: the Constitutional Court given the responsibility

From the Court of Salerno at the request of the Campania union of journalists in a trial of chief editor and collaborator of the newspaper “Roma” of Naples

It will be the Constitutional Court that establishes whether imprisonment for persons convicted for libel is a legitimate measure. This was decided by the court of Salerno which accepted the objection of “unconstitutionality” raised by the lawyer for the unitary union of journalists of Campania, Giancarlo Visone, in the libel trial against the chief editor of the newspaper “Roma” and a journalist, the author of an article.

According to the thesis of the trade union, shared by the judge, “even the mere abstract prediction of the possible imposition of a prison sentence in the event of libel would imply an excessive limitation of the conventionally and constitutionally protected right of freedom of expression of thought and reporting of a journalist, incompatible with Article 10 of the ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights)”.

According to the union’s thesis, imprisonment for journalists, provided for in article 13 of the press law and article 595, paragraph three, of the penal code (libel in print), would violate articles 3, 21, 25 and 27, as well as Article 117 paragraph 1 of the Constitution in relation to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The president of the FNSI, Raffaele Lorusso and Giuseppe Giulietti, and the secretary of the SUGC, Claudio Silvestri in a joint statement said, “For years we have been calling for a law from Parliament to cancel imprisonment for journalists”.

A real disgrace that no government has seriously wanted to tackle and that pushes Italy down in the rankings on press freedom. Now the Constitutional Court will decide on the legitimacy of imprisonment.

Regardless of the judgments, however, an intervention by the legislator on this fundamental subject is increasingly urgent because it concerns the right of journalists to inform and the right of citizens to be informed. The recent condemnation of Italy by the European Court of Human Rights precisely because of the presence of the prison sentence for the offence of libel no longer gives the Parliament any alibi”.

(Source Ansa) (wt)

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