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Italy should not jail journalists for libel, says OSCE media representative

Dunja Mijatovic call Italy’s Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant’ Agata asking for the Government to help reverse the bill, “which would curtail media freedom in Italy”.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, expressed concern today over pending legislation that would make imprisonment a penalty for criminal libel in Italy.
The decision was approved by the Senate in a secret vote on 13 November and is now in process to go in front of the other chamber of the Parliament.
“This recent decision to reintroduce prison terms as possible criminal punishment for defamation runs against the overall trend in the OSCE region to decriminalize speech offences,” Mijatović said.
“I am convinced that such decisions should be discussed with all stakeholders, including journalists and the civil society, and debated in a transparent manner” Mijatović said.
The Representative wrote to Italy’s Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant’ Agata asking for the Government to help reverse the bill, “which would curtail media freedom in Italy”.  She noted the urgency of the matter, as it is linked to an appellate court ruling which upheld the criminal conviction and 14 month prison sentence imposed on Alessandro Sallusti, former editor of the newspaper ‘Libero’.
Since its establishment in 1997, the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media has promoted decriminalizing defamation in the OSCE area.

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