The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is sending an appeal to the Italian Parliament to remove Articles 594 and 595 of the Italian Criminal Code. According to the articles defamation can be a civil or criminal offense and if a criminal t is punishable by imprisonment. According to article 595 criminal defamation is punished with prison sentences of up to three years.
Especially is worried the fact, that if the offense is direct to a political or administrative or judicial authority, the penalties will be increased.. According to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) public persons, especially those in political roles, should expect a higher degree of criticism due to their position in society. Politicians who supported opinions that were open to criticism had to accept that they would be subject to especially hard-hitting attacks, even personal ones.
Italy needs urgently reforms that decriminalize defamation and establish reasonable limits on damages within civil law, so that press freedom can better be protected.
The trend of lawsuits against journalists in Italy is alarming, indicating a reduction space for press freedom and civic engagement. Especially is important that the work of journalist in Italy should not be blocked by Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs).
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