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Reckless lawsuits. Senator filippin, imperative to stop them and there is an agreement

Instead, on the abolition of prison and the correction without comment longer times are needed, as the rapporteur on the defamation bill explains

“The goal is clear. Faced with the instrumental use of justice, for intimidating, journalists need a legislative solution. This urgent question needs a quick response from the legislator”, Senator Rosanna Filippin (Pd), rapporteur at the Justice Commission on the Bill on Libel, told Ossigeno per l’Informazione to explain why she has asked for and obtained the exclusion (read) of the rules proposed to effectively counteract the frequent appeal to lawsuits and civil cases promoted in a spurious way to intimidate journalists, forcing them to defend themselves from unfounded allegations and claims for compensation that mete unjustified harm on their lives and the budgets of publishing companies.

Senator, why did you advance this proposal?

On matters governed by the first two articles of the original bill, closely linked to each other, further reflection is needed to reach a shared solution. These two articles modify the Press Law (February 8, 1948, No.47) by proposing a complex correction system of the news to be published at the request of the subject who is deemed defamed. According to the proposed legislation, the publication of the correction without comment and without replication would entail the non-punishment of the journalist. Moreover, these articles remodel the punishments currently provided for libel, replacing jail with pecuniary penalties. It seems that these two articles in their entirety do not sufficiently balance the rights of the parties involved: on the one hand, the right of who has been (or is believed to be) defamed to obtain a quick correction of what has been published in his or her harm; on the other hand, the right to inform and be informed that could be compromised by the publication of a correction without comment and answer. Especially when the request for rectification is more motivated by the desire to avoid judicial disputes than to tell the facts.

The operation in the Justice Commission does not solve the issue of prison sentences that continue to be issued against journalists, creating the chilling effect that the European institutions advocate to avoid. How do you think it can be solved?

It’s true, the question of prison sentences remains unresolved. The matter is undoubted to be revised by amending existing legislation, which provides for up to six years of imprisonment for journalists convicted of libel aggravated by the determined fact of attribution. But, as I said, the negative findings on the overall wording of articles 1 and 2 were superior to the positive ones. Therefore, further reflection was needed to reach a more shared solution on issues of rectification and punishment.

What goal did you have in mind when you proposed the removal of part of the bill?

The goal is to provide a legislative solution to the urgent question of the intimidating use of justice against journalists. The rules contained in the exclusion measure are meant to “punish” those who resort to the reckless lawsuits so as to impede the work of a journalist. They also intend to fight the astronomical claims for damages. Both phenomena (reckless lawsuits and disproportionate damage claims) are well-known. It needs a response from the legislator and it must be a quick response. That is why the course of the rules in question will continue, examining and voting also those amendments that had already been proposed on this part of the law by my fellow Senators.

So now, what will the timing and voting of the new bill be?

I believe that the text resulting from the excerpt can be quickly approved by the Senate Justice Commission and then by the Senate. At this time I do not see any obstacles to the equally fast passage to the House of Deputies, considering that the purpose of this bill is the contrast to the use of justice for intimidation, which is widely known and shared. Now we must hope to complete this parliamentary procedure before the legislature ends.

GFM

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