European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today backed a massive mobilisation
organised by its Italian affiliate, the Federazione Nazionale della Stampa
Italiana (FNSI) in opposition
to an Italian law over wiretapping which the union claims will hamper legitimate
law proposed by the Italian Minister of Justice, Angelino Alfano and also called
the "gagging law" (legge bavaglio) was adopted on 10 June in the Italian Senate and
covers telephone tapping ordered by judges. It is still to be discussed in the
EFJ and the FNSI warn that this draft
law is an attempt to censor journalists and to prevent citizens from getting
information on issues of public interest. FNSI General Secretary Franco Siddi warned: "This law
will take away from citizens an inalienable right, the right to
FNSI is organising in cooperation
with other unions and civil society a major demonstration in central Rome and in other places throughout Italy on 1 July
between 17.00 and 21.00. It will also organise a "black out", a day of silence
of the Italian press and public broadcasting on 9 July.
is not only a fight by Italian journalists and supporters of civil
liberties but a European fight for press freedom and the citizens' right to
know," said Arne König, EFJ President. "Journalists are not supposed to hide
information, whether the source is public or private, and their sources should
be protected. They do not ask for the "right to gossip", but for the right to
inform in the public interest." He said the Silvio Berlusconi government's
draft law is contrary to international conventions and to the case-law of the
European Court of Human Rights. "The FNSI supported by the EFJ/IFJ is ready to take this
to the European Court of Human Rights," he said.
delegation will also discuss the wiretapping draft law in a meeting with EU
Commissioner Reding, responsible for Justice and Fundamental Rights on 1 July.
Commissioner Reding said in an interview with an Italian newspaper last week
that the European Commission would analyse the law once adopted with respect to
press freedom and freedom of information, which are fundamental values to the
The draft bill
foresees a penalty of up to 464,700 Euros for publishers and up to 10,000 Euros
for journalists who flout the ban. Furthermore, the bill foresees prison
sentences for anyone who records or films without the approval of the person who
is being recorded or filmed.
journalists" (i.e. journalists belonging to the Italian National Order of
Journalists) would be allowed to record and film individuals without previous
authorisation, solely for journalistic purposes.
Special authorisation would be needed to
tap the phones of parliamentarians and priests. Journalists would be banned from
publishing transcripts or summaries and even from reporting on a probe until
preliminary investigations are over.
While journalists want to respect the
right of privacy, the EFJ and its affiliate the FNSI demand the right balance between privacy and
freedom of information, as enshrined in the European Convention of Human
EFJ says this law would reinforce the European-wide trend of attacks on civil
liberties, which can only be confronted by a strong mobilisation of professional
organisations and civil society.
For more information
contact the EFJ at +32 2 235 2200
The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in over 30 countries in Europe