EFJ Calls on Senate to Oppose Draft Law on Wiretapping in Italy

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today expressed its great concern about the draft Italian law 1415, proposed by the Italian Minister of Justice, Angelino Alfano, and called on members of the Italian Senate to reject this legislative proposal that threatens to limit journalists’ ability to provide the public with vital information.


The draft law, which has already passed by the lower house of Parliament and is currently under discussion in the Senate applies in particular to telephone tapping ordered by judges.


The EFJ and its Italian affiliate, the Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana (FNSI) consider this draft law as an attempt to censor journalists and to prevent citizens from getting information on issues of public interest in Italy


“The proposed law and, in particular its most controversial articles (Nr. 2 and 13), are contrary to universal principles of media freedom and contravenes the role of media as political watchdogs,” 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. Berlusconi’s draft law is contrary to international conventions and to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.”


Article 2 proposes a prohibition for journalists to refer to preliminary police investigations in their reporting until these investigations are complete. Further, it forbids journalists to publish any official investigation documentation until hearings have started. This means that official public documents will not be considered public anymore.


Article 13 of the draft law contains two amendments to the Criminal Code that would increase the punishment for journalists and editors who publish such documents or who publish leaked police wiretaps. Reporters risk three years of prison and editors a fine of up to € 465,000.


In Italy, leaked wiretaps have frequently been used by investigative reporters to reveal corruption and political scandals (for instance, the corruption scandal regarding “Parmalat” a few years ago) and journalists and judges together have campaigned against this law as another attack on press freedom in a country where the major media is owned by the Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.


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.


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EFJ represents over  250,000 journalists

in more than 30 countries of Europe