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Protection of journalists. Message from Minister of Foreign Affairs

The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Paolo Gentiloni, sent this message to Ossigeno about the international conference of July 2, 2015 in Rome.

Dear Friends, freedom of information is one of the greatest achievements of modern constitutions, and we must not forget that December 22, 1947, when in Italy the Constituent Assembly approved the text that contains art. 21, recognizing that fundamental and imperative principle that contributed to the birth of our democracy.

I believe that in Italy we cannot say that information is not free. I believe, however, that many journalists are not free: i.e. free to write the truth, free to inquire, free to exercise their profession at the best of their abilities. I think of the daily acts of intimidation and threats against those who face issues like the mafia or organized crime. In the history of our country, unfortunately, there is a long list of men and women who have paid with their lives for seeking the truth.

I think of the period also known as the “years of lead”, a season of many Mafia murders. But if today the imposition of silence is somewhat less violent, we must not delude ourselves. Weapons have become more subtle, but are nonetheless still dangerous, for they act in the shadows, thus no longer triggering angry reactions from the public opinion, and capable of isolating the voices of complaint. The situation in other European countries is quite different, where sometimes the same institutions are those that threaten freedom of information.

In the long journey that will take all us one day to feel, truly, citizens of one big state called Europe, freedom of information has a very important role. And perhaps it is no coincidence that the last major event that filled the streets of many European capitals was dedicated to journalists. And those millions of citizens who, in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, have come out of their houses to demand the freedom of expression and information as a fundamental value of our nations, are a giant leap forward on this tortuous road.

Paolo Gentiloni, Foreign Minister

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