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Defamation. New call from the Council of Europe to Italy

The organization still asks the decriminalization of the offense and the respect of European standards. Coming, a report on the protection of press freedom

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has asked Italy to continue the process of changing the libel law, decriminalizing the crime and introducing measures to meet the standards set by the organization. The request, as explained by ANSA, is contained in a report on the protection of press freedom that will be discussed and voted on January 27 in Strasbourg.

The Council of Europe said that the request to change the law on defamation was paid for the first time in 2007 and that changes need to comply with the observations from the Venice Commission of December 2013, the body of constitutional experts in the Council.

The committee had determined that “the bill being debated in Parliament is undoubtedly an effort to improve” the law, but it also stressed the need for further changes. Specifically, the need to make ” the requirement of proportionality between the fines and the economic conditions of the journalist as a criterion for evaluation of damages to be paid to the vilified party more explicit”.

Moreover, the Venice Commission observed, Article 595 of the Italian Criminal Code provides that a news story, in order for it to be defamatory, it should not necessarily be false or inaccurate: in Article 595 there should therefore be inserted explicitly the criteria of truth and public interest of the news and responsibility of the journalist.

ANSA reported that even according to the European Court of Human Rights, Italian law is in violation of the rights of journalists: the Court, in 2013, had ordered our country to compensate Maurizio Belpietro, who was sentenced by the Court of Appeals of Milan to four years in prison and a 110’000 euro fine.

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