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OSCE. Italy needs further changes in draft defamation law

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media welcomed improvements but also pointed to important problematic provisions that still need to be changed

from http://www.osce.org/fom/108180

TBILISI, 12 November 2013 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović welcomed improvements made by Italian authorities in the draft law on defamation, but also pointed to important problematic provisions that still need to be changed.

“I welcome the abolishment of prison sentences for insult and defamation. However, the decision of the Chamber of Deputies to retain criminal liability for these offences is a missed opportunity to comply with international standards and best practice”, Dunja Mijatović wrote in a letter to the Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino.

She also said the suggested increased fines in the Criminal Code and Press Law in the current draft of the law are problematic.

“The fines are excessive. They could create a chilling effect on the media and in some cases pose a significant threat to journalists in smaller media outlets where finances are limited, thus threatening media pluralism in Italy”, Mijatović said.

“I urge members of the Italian Senate to consider further amendments to fully decriminalize defamation. Free speech should not be subject to criminal charges of this kind”, Mijatović said.

Mijatović has been consistently calling for the decriminalization of defamation in the OSCE region. She presented the legal review and recommendations to the Italian authorities to further improve this law.

The full text of the legal review, commissioned by the Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media and carried out by Senior Legal Officer Boyko Boev of Article 19, a non-governmental UK-based organization, is available here: http://www.osce.org/fom/108108

Mijatović is in Tbilisi attending the 10th OSCE South Caucasus Media Conference.

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