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Italy. Better protection to journalists, OSCE Representative urges

Too many attacks against them. Trend of intimidation and threats must be reversed, OSCE Representative says to the italian authorities. Letters to Italian Foreign Minister

VIENNA, 31 August 2015 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today urged the Italian authorities to offer better protection for members of the media, following recent attack against journalists covering activities of organized crime groups.

According to media reports, on 21 August, Alessio Viscardi, an investigative reporter with Fanpage.it, received death threats from a group of four individuals while conducting research on Vittorio Casamonica’s funeral which was held on 20 August.

On 22 August, a news crew from the television station RAI 3 was stopped by local residents and threatened while filming in an area in Rome where several members of Casamonica’s family lives.

“This escalating trend of threats and acts of intimidation against journalists in Italy must be stopped and reversed”, Mijatović said, urging the authorities to swiftly investigate the incidents.

According to a report issued in August by the parliamentary anti-mafia commission in Italy, attacks on investigative journalists reporting on organized crime in the country have risen constantly since 2006. Only in a few cases, perpetrators were identified, brought to justice and convicted, the report said.

“An atmosphere of impunity and failure to bring the perpetrators to justice adds to the prevalent climate of fear among members of the media,” Mijatović said. “It also seriously impairs freedom of expression and the public’s access to information.”

In January this year, Mijatović sent a letter to the Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni to express her concern about cases involving the safety of journalists, impunity from prosecution and defamation proceedings against media. The Representative called attention to the scores of incidents against media representatives that had occurred in Italy during 2014, and provided a summary of the incidents and asked for information on the most relevant cases.

In May, the Representative received a letter from Foreign Minister Gentiloni with Italy´s remarks to the cases on defamation lawsuits and attacks against journalists. The remarks also included information about the ongoing police investigations into four of the cases of attacks against journalists raised in the Representative’s letter.

ASP

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