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Journalists. Muižnieks: I shall be a representative of the fight against intimidation in Italy

The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe met in Rome with the representatives of the ODG, FNSI, UsigRai and Ossigeno per l’Informazione

“If I understand correctly, the main problems of journalists concerning the restrictions on freedom of information in Italy are two: the frivolous lawsuits and quarrels and the attitude that can be defined predatory of many publishers”, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Mr Nils Muižnieks, said summarizing the situation described by Mr Alberto Spampinato, director of Ossigeno per l’Informazione, Mr Enzo Iacopino, president of the Order of Journalists, Mr Giovanni Rossi, President of the FNSI, and Mr Vittorio Di Trapani, UsigRai president, during a meeting in Rome at the headquarters of the FNSI.

“Yours is a good synthesis”, the interlocutors confirmed. Although, as Mr Spampinato added, “there are also thousands of serious and real enough threats and intimidations, which are carried out with the use of physical force. They represent the more dramatic side of the problem.”

As Mr Giovanni Rossi also said, “we have decided to promote the Ossigeno Observatory in order to monitor threats to journalists, precisely because the situation has reached alarming levels, in part because of organized crime, in part due to the backwards legislation and the general insecurity of journalist jobs”.

Mr Iacopino spoke of the many journalists who are paid less than five Euros per article by publishers that benefit from government grants, and the difficulties that have so far prevented the application of the 2012 Law on fair compensation.

Mr Vittorio Di Trapani explained the problems deriving from the governance of the public broadcaster, RAI, which has to provide for a control held by the government and the political parties.

“You must count me as one of your allies in dealing with these problems and in presenting them to the Italian authorities, and also to bring some cases to the European Court for Human Rights”, Mr Muižnieks said.

As Mr Di Trapani said: “you could already begin helping us during this very same visit to Rome by demanding for the immediate implementation of the recommendations of the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe in February 2012 that listed the essential and urgent reforms to be adopted in each country relative to the governance of the media that perform a public service”.

“He must certainly consider us his allies”, Mr Iacopino added. “We rely on your help to finally get these serious problems onto the Italian political scene and to the wider attention of the media, where they are still notably absent”, Mr Spampinato said.

ASP

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