Seizure in Palermo. OSCE asks Italy to clarify about its lawfulness

The Representative on Freedom of the Media immediately reacted over the news on the seizure of journalist Salvo Palazzolo of La Repubblica’s mobile and computer by sending a formal inquiry to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

VIENNA, 14 September 2018 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, today sent a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, Enzo Moavero Milanesi, to express his concerns about the seizure of a journalist’s phone and computer, as well as to recall the necessity to respect the protection of journalistic sources and to enquire whether the seizure respected national and international standards.

On 13 September the home of La Repubblica journalist Salvo Palazzolo was searched at the request of the prosecutor of Catania as part of an investigation related to a case of alleged leak of information and violation of confidentiality of a judicial procedure after the journalist published a report on the via D’Amelio bombing, an attack by the Sicilian Mafia in which magistrate Paolo Borsellino was killed with five policemen in 1992.

“The seizure and search of Palazzolo’s mobile phone and computer undermines the protection of sources of the journalist and the right of the press not to disclose confidential sources, which is essential for the exercise of reporting on issues of public interest,” Désir said.

Désir recalled that in General Comment No 34, the authoritative interpretation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Human Rights Committee has clearly indicated that freedom of expression includes the protection of journalistic sources (paragraph 45).

The Representative also cited the recommendation made by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and freedom of expression, David Kaye, in his 2015 report the UN General Assembly, that “any restrictions on confidentiality must be genuinely exceptional and subject to the highest standards, and implemented by judicial authorities only” (A/70/361, para 62).

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. He provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at, twitter @OSCE_RFoM and on

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