EU tells Italy to change defamation laws

EU tells Italy to reform its defamation laws


The European Commission called on Italy to reform its defamation laws to protect journalists from lawsuits seeking to intimidate them.

In its 2022 Rule of Law Report, the Commission said Italy’s Press Law is unconstitutional and incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. As it stands, the defamation laws provide for the penalty of imprisonment of the press.

The report also said several libel cases had an effect akin to strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs). In conclusion, it said Italy should “introduce legislative and other safeguards to reform the regime on defamation, the protection of professional secrecy and journalistic sources, taking into account the European standards on the protection of journalists”.

Furthermore, it noted cases of physical attacks, death threats and other forms of intimidation against journalists were on the rise in Italy.

Further reforms required

The report also called on Italy to adopt comprehensive conflict of interest rules and a regulation to establish an operational lobbying register. These would include a legislative footprint, and address the practice of channelling donations through political foundations and associations.

 In addition, a single electronic register for party and campaign finance information should be introduced, the report concluded.

Points made in the report included: “Until the new law is adopted and enters into force, legislation on conflicts of interest remains fragmented”.

“A Code of Conduct for Ethics has not been adopted.”

“Similarly, no further developments have taken place with regard to the mandatory publication of asset declarations for members of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, which remains fragmented and non-transparent”.

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