Italy 2022. Threats double, fewer journalists report him to the authorities

564 cases compared to 288 in the same period of 2021 – The share of SLAPPs with respect to acts of violence has increased – Ossigeno data and those of the Italian Interior Ministry’s Documentation Centre

OSSIGENO December 27th 2022 – In 2022 in Italy, journalists threatened were double the number of the previous year. In addition, the reports of threatened persons to the police have decreased and the share of reckless and instrumental lawsuits and libel suits has increased. These findings were announced by Ossigeno per l’Informazione, in presenting the latest data from its observatory on threats to journalists and on news suppressed through violence.

In the first nine months of 2022, 564 journalists were threatened; almost double the 288 in the same period of 2021. (See here)

In particular, the part of intimidation and threats carried out through specious or manifestly unfounded libel lawsuits has increased, the result of an anachronistic and unjust legislation, which illustrates the Italian aspect of that “incorrect use of the judicial system” denounced by UNESCO in a study just published. (read here The ‘misuse’ of the justice system that limits freedom of expression)

These intimidations and threats have increased disproportionally to the others, i.e. those that have manifested themselves with assaults, warnings, and other violent methods. This development aspect makes the Italian picture even more worrying.

This trend is confirmed by the data published by the Observation Centre of the Ministry of the Interior. This Centre monitors violent intimidation, i.e., the part of which the forces of order become aware. This year the Centre recorded fewer episodes than the previous year (read here what the Interior Ministry and Ossigeno data indicate).

These figures from the Interior Ministry do not say that there have been fewer threats to journalists. They literally say that fewer journalists reported threats against them this year.

This means that Italian journalists report threats less often than before. Why? Do they have less faith in the interventions of the authorities, or are they more resigned or are they simply more afraid than before and therefore suffer more often without reacting? This aspect will be investigated further.

Certainly, however, the decrease in threats recorded by the Interior Ministry is not good news; it is not a reassuring sign. Indeed, it is a further alarm signal.

Ossigeno hopes that the alarm will be heeded and that this will lead to a better understanding of the trend of the phenomenon and to an intensification of activities to sensitize the world of journalism, political forces, Parliament, and the Italian Government to adopt each in their own area, appropriate countermeasures. The menu of dos and don’ts is long and well known and has remained unchanged for years. It is sad to end 2022 by noting that this year too has passed without any progress being made.

Intimidation and threats against journalists are undeniably a disease that undermines freedom of information and harms citizens’ participation in public life. Neglected, untreated diseases can degenerate and produce worse damage to the body. And perhaps that is what is happening. AS

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