A proposed libel
law introduced in Italy's Upper House last week stirred up a frenzy of protest
among journalists and the EFJ's affiliate, the Federazione della Stampa Italiana (FNSI).
The latest draft
proposal, which will be discussed in the Senate next week, seeks to eliminate
jail terms in cases of libel, however replacing them with - among others -
hefty fines and the right of the offended party to immediately get his or her
side of the story out in the accused publication free from any editorial
"It is not good
to have a bad law which includes the risk of putting journalists
to go to prison", said Arne König, EFJ President. "But neither it is acceptable
to propose a new law, which intimidates media, especially small media and may
force journalists to self-censorship; and this in particular in times of crisis
is a clear threat to the free press and democracy".
Referring to the
heavy fines and damages publications could incur in libel cases under the
proposed new law, Roberto Natale, President of the FNSI and member of the EFJ
Steering Committee, said: "Today these norms are absurd and dangerous as
they can condition the survival of many newspapers and reveal an absolute
disdain for press freedom. It is to be hoped that the (parliamentary) debate
will radically alter it".
At the occasion of the meeting of its Executive Committee, the International Federation of Journalists also adopted a motion against this draft law.
According to the
proposed law, fines of between 5,000 and 100,000 euros can be awarded to anyone
who has won a libel case.
The FNSI has
called journalists and citizens to mobilise against this dangerous "test of
reform of the law on defamation" in front of the Senate. The FNSI called for a demonstration today, Monday, 29 October, at 17.00h on the Piazza del Pantheon.
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 00
The EFJ is the European group of the International Federation of Journalists
The EFJ represents over 300,000 journalists in 30 countries