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The Ossigeno point of view at the OSCE workshop in Kazakistan

This Alberto Spampinato’s point of view  on behalf of “Ossigeno per l’ Informazione” was taken by Peter Cecioni to the OSCE Civil Society Expert Workshop 2016 on Freedom of Expression held in Almaty, Kazakistan, last 12-14 September

In recent years has been widely shared by experts the diagnosis according to which the space of freedom of expression and the press is shrinking throughout the world, in the West as in the East, even in the countries of ancient democracy. And now, among them, it is also a common belief that this is producing serious negative consequences, that compression of the right to inform and to be informed is reducing the possibility of the citizens of each country to fully exercise the right to participate knowingly in the elections and other public decisions. It is also equally spread between the insiders the conviction that, on a larger scale, compression of freedom of information is affecting the hopes of buildinga free world based on collective well-being and peaceful coexistence.

According to these beliefs, in recent years, the big institutions have launched increasingly strong warnings, insistent and heartfelt that we know. They denounced this situation and called on national Governments to take action to reverse the trend.

But, as we know, all appeals have fallen into voids, have had no effect, they have certain route changes of Governments, nor (these appeals) have had resonance outside the narrow circle of insiders: the few citizens of the world who have heard of it they heard with disbelief, as they believe that there is nothing to worry about because in their view they circulate from too much information. We know that most of the media thinks the same way and this is all the more significant the effect ch alarms produce.

This is worrisome. We should be aware of that and we must strive to find a more suitable, more effective way to represent the situation, to make requests for stronger intervention from the Governments, to make citizens and media operators such as minaacce series we speak and how and why they directly relate to each of them, their jobs, their freedom. This can be the starting point for a reflection on the King’s intervention strategies on the role of civil society.

What to do? I personally think that we should begin to treat these issues in another way and talk to another language. We should start systematically and objectively monitor the violations of freedom of the press, the right to information enshrined in the treaties as a fundamental right: should we monitor all these violations of exceptional numbers visibly dramatic ones and not gravity as we have been accustomed to do now. We should observe and classify these violations with a common standard and we should do this in every country, even in those countries more ancient and consolidated democracy. When we do this, when we’ll be able to tell what happens in every country, that is when we will speak the language of facts. We can be persuasive, we manage to affect government decisions, we can create an awareness in public opinion that today there is not and cannot be. The document of Belgrade urges Governments to do this monitoring.The same prodding came last April 2016 with the recommendations of the Comitto of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Are important documents and requests. But we can’t passively wait for Governments to decide to intervene.

Civil society’s role is to fill this void and is a task that civil society can play. He says the experience we had in Italy, with Oxygen for information. This small NGO has worked with volunteers, without public funding and proved conclusivelywhat nobody wanted to admit that about 40% of Italian journalists suffered threats, intimidation, reprisals, court proceedings and pretexts. This NGO has published a list of the names of almost 3,000 journalist and bloggers threatened over the past decade because of their work and estimated that at least 30 thousand others have suffered threats and other serious condiionamenti of the same type. With this monitor, run with an encoded metoddo and published in various languages, oxygen for information has addressed the Parliament acuisito the data and validated together with the analysis of the situation. In 2015 the Italian Parliament has therefore formulated incisive proposals for amendments of some basic laws, pointing to loopholes in the law inexcusable that freedom of information rendolo a right easily crackable, loopholes that exist in almost all democratic countries and not only in Italy. A small NGO has triggered a positive political process which was unthinkable a few years ago and that the same NGOS becoming known worldwide.

Us experts we must first help others to open their eyes and to direct our gaze in the right direction and to look at these things with suitable means of observing them.

New forms of censorship are subtle, they escape classic controls, spread without that public opinion will warn the danger and the extension. Intimidation and abuses of the right are the new disease afflicting press freedom in free countries.In Italy this dark evil kills thousands of victims. We must ask ourselves: in otheradvanced countries freer and happens something like this? You need to know.

 

The “Italian case” says that despite existing laws can be reborn limitations of freedom they believed impossible. Unfortunately, to see the new complaint and its effects not just browse the newspapers, don’t just read the official statistics.New gags escape traditional controls like invisible planes escape to radar. The “Italian case” says that the new censorship makes its way into the folds of the law, takes advantage of loopholes in the law and gets strong inattention and impunity. The “Italian case” says that we in Europe need new tools.

 

You must create these tools to prevent diseases of countries less free can infectthe Bishops of press freedom. The OSCE, together with the broad international front which defends human rights, can initiate targeted initiatives in this field and adequate. Can promote good practices, analysis and original instruments which have helped reveal in Italy, measure and describe hidden censorship and have paved the way in search of antidotes.

ASP

 

 

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