The memorandum sent to the Supreme Court marks a step backwards with respect to Parliament and until proven otherwise reflects the position of the Italian government
Ossigeno per l’Informazione considers the position expressed by the State Attorney – in favour of the retention in the legal system of norms that punish with prison sentences journalists who commit the offence of defamation while doing their duty. of exceptional political importance. This position reflects that of the Italian government and will remain so until it has been corrected or retracted.
For its retention of these rules in the legal codes, Italy has already been sanctioned several times by the European Court of Human Rights. For example in 2012, when the journalist Alessandro Sallusti was sentenced to 14 months in prison, an international scandal erupted which the Head of State Giorgio Napolitano resolved by commuting the sentence into a fine and asking Parliament to change those rules immediately. He acted as other presidents of the Republic had done before him in similar cases.
We hope that the government will reflect on these precedents and on the implications that defending imprisonment for libel could have at an international level on the image of Italy. The government can take this opportunity to align the country – as it should be – with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights which is unequivocally and constantly contrary to the very existence of rules that provide for imprisonment for journalists. A penalty that it considers acceptable only for defamation in the press that constitutes incitement to hatred and violence.
The Italian government, led by the “people’s lawyer” (as Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte defines himself) , should take a further step forward by embracing the cause of the decriminalization of defamation in the press requested by the UN and European institutions and never taken into consideration in Italy. The government should give a breath of life to bills that intend to reform the rules that provide for heavy penalties for journalists in the event of defamation in the press and more to the point the replacement of a prison sentence with a fine. In other words, Ossigeno asks that the Italian government remains (or finally places itself) in the wake of the Constitution, of the principles introduced by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and of the jurisprudence of the Court of Strasbourg.
Ossigeno per l’Informazione (Oxygen for Information)