EFJ Backs Protest by Journalists and Citizens Groups Over Law on Wiretapping in Italy

The

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

journalistic work.

The

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

Lower House.

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

know."

The

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.



"This

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.

An EFJ

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

European Union.

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.

Only "professional

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

rights.

The

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