Time to decriminalize defamation in Italy, says the EFJ

Controversy is building

around a proposed libel law in Italy after an amendment was passed by the

Italian senate that could send reporters to jail but would let editors off with

a fine.


The FNSI, the European

Federation of Journalists’ affiliate in Italy, has today called on journalists

to join a day of protests and mobilisation. Together with the Italian

Publishers Federation (FIEG) the FNSI has signed an urgent appeal 

to the Parliament and to all political groups to reject this draft law and to

decrimilize defamation.


“We reiterate our request to

the Italian parliament to reverse the bill and to decriminalize defamation in

Italy in order to preserve media freedom,” said EFJ President Arne König. “The

EFJ completely supports the latest appeal of both publishers’ and journalists’

organisations who are campaigning against disproportionate rules that could

seriously limit a journalist’s right to report.”


“Such important legislation

should be discussed with all stakeholders, including journalists, publishers

and civil society in a transparent matter”, he added.


The latest proposal for the

law foresees only economic sanctions for directors or media organisations, but

it provides for the possibility for reporters to potentially be imprisoned. “It

cannot be that journalists who have less power over publishing decisions are

risking more than the editors who have more power,” said König.


The debate over Italy's

already severe defamation penalties was ignited in September when Alessandro

Sallusti, editor-in-chief of the newspaper owned by the brother of  Silvio

Berlusconi, was sentenced to 14 months in prison for a libellous article

printed in 2007, when he was in charge of another newspaper.


The FNSI has called on

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, 26 November at 17.00h on the piazza del pantheon to stand

for “the dignity of the person, autonomy and responsibility, the right to know

and pluralism of information.”


The EFJ campaigns for the

decriminalisation of defamation throughout Europe.


More information on the website of the FNSI:




The EFJ is the European group of the

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and represents about 310.000

journalists in over 30 countries.


For more information, please contact the

EFJ at +32 2 235.2200