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Italy – Journalist, former newspaper director convicted in criminal defamation case in Italy

8 Aug

8 August 2012

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) – 8 August 2012 – ARTICLE 19 calls on the Italian Parliament to repeal the provisions of the Penal Code on defamation and bring the country’s legislation in compliance with international standards on freedom of expression in response to a recent court decision in a criminal defamation case, convicting an Italian journalist and the former director of a newspaper to prison sentences.

ARTICLE 19 has sent requests to both chambers of the Italian Parliament urging them to review and amend the provisions of the Penal Code dealing with defamation. Our request was prompted by the prison sentences given by the Bolzano Tribunal to journalist Orfeo Donatini and the former director of the newspaper Alto Adige, Tiziano Marson.

The criminal defamation case against Donatini and Marson was initiated by a member of Bolzano’s Provincial Council, Sven Knoll. Knoll complained that the defendants had defamed him in an article published in Alto Adige in 2008. The article, written by Donatini, reported that Knoll had participated in a neo-Nazi summit in Val Passiria, Italy. This information, which first appeared in the national weekly L’Espresso, was taken from a police report.

Knoll did not contact Alto Adige in reaction to the article. Instead, he lodged a criminal defamation complaint with the Bolzano Tribunal. At the prosecutor’s request, the journalists were initially acquitted but the case was reviewed by the Court of Cassation, which referred it back to the Bolzano Tribunal.

On 20 June 2012 Donatini and Marson were convicted of ‘defamation through the press’, and were sentenced to four months in prison and asked to pay 15,000 Euros (18,500 USD) in compensation.

ARTICLE 19 is concerned about the decision taken in this case. We believe that the presence of criminal defamation provisions in the Penal Code and its continued application as in this case is incompatible with basic democratic ideals, as well as international guarantees of freedom of expression.

ARTICLE 19 is alarmed that Italy is one of the two last remaining countries in Europe where journalists still receive prison sentences for defamation. It is disturbing that one of the founding member states of the Council of Europe and the European Union uses sanctions regarded in the rest of Europe as archaic, anti-democratic and a disproportionate restriction on freedom of expression. The second country in Europe is Belarus, which is currently suspended from the Council of Europe because of its lack of respect for fundamental human rights.

The recent case, as well as the prison sentences given by the Court of Chieti to the journalists Valter Nerone, Claudio Lattanzio and Luigi Vicinanza in 2011, highlight the need for an immediate response at a legislative level.

We call on the Italian Parliament to repeal the defamation provisions of the Penal Code in order to comply with international standards on freedom of expression. The criminal sentence against the Alto Adige journalists must be reversed accordingly.


Free Word Centre
60 Farringdon Road
United Kingdom
info (@)
Phone: +44 20 7324 2517
Fax: +44 20 7490 0566

via IFEX

Turkey – Kurdish journalist released following judicial reform in Turkey

8 Aug

8 August 2012

(BIANET/IFEX) – A court in the southeastern Turkish province of Diyarbakir ruled to release Ozan Kilinc, the former editor-in-chief of the Kurdish daily Azadiya Welat, in compliance with new amendments that came into effect following the ratification of the Third Judicial Reform package by parliament and President Abdullah Gul on 2 July 2012. “I will resume [working as a] journalist from where I left off in spite of all the hardships and repression,” Kilinc told BIANET after his release.

There are, however, still about half a dozen other suits filed against Kilinc pending before the Supreme Court of Appeals. The prosecution has requested varying sentences for Kilinc in these trials, ranging from one to seven years in prison, but all of them pertain to the same charge of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

Kilinc said he never abandoned journalism while serving time behind bars at a prison in the southeastern province of Bingol. “I was constantly writing in prison. I was writing news stories about ongoing problems at the prison and about the cases of other friends standing trial, and I was sending them to my paper. We were still trying to keep up this struggle even though we were [locked up behind bars],” he said. “I will resume covering the news from where I left off to show that the free press cannot be silenced,” Kilinc added.

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IPS Communication Foundation
Faikpasa Sokak, Faikpasa Apt. No. 37, Kat 3
34425 Beyoglu, Istanbul
bia (@)
Phone: +90 212 2511503
Fax: +90 212 2511609

via IFEX

Blog: Election corruption grave threat to Pakistan’s media

8 Aug

“Elections will not be fought, but will be bought,” is a saying being used by political tacticians in Pakistan. Hope for the legitimacy of the country’s first fair transfer of power between two civilian governments with the oversight of unbiased media is disappearing quickly. Billions of rupees are pouring into media outlets through secret sources, journalists and media watch organizations say. The cash is being paid out in several different ways. 

The plan is to use government money rather than intimidation to gain media support for the ruling Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition. Millions of dollars of government funds are allegedly being paid to high-profile journalists and media houses with the aim to influence mainstream media’s role in the upcoming voting, to be held February 2013 at the latest. The bribes are sometimes disguised as one-year salary advances or loans on highly advantageous terms, journalists and media watch organizations say. The cash handouts threaten to destroy the respect and credibility the media have been able to build over the years.

The problem is more than large amounts of money being used for political advertisements to influence voters. It involves the alleged use of secret payments to media houses and their personalities, and has even further ramifications. At the grassroots level–considering that many of the country’s 25,000 journalists living in impoverished rural regions often have to wait three or four months for their salary–large amounts of cash can go a long way. And the plan is almost sure to drive a rift between print and broadcast journalists and rural and urban reporters, while setting on-air personalities against each other. The victim will be the credibility of Pakistani journalism.

A petition before the Supreme Court by the prominent journalists Hamid Mir and Absar Alam is a step in the right direction. It seeks to probe the slush fund and learn who has already been paid. The pair want the court to oversee an accountability commission for the media–though many journalists think that is going too far in trying to clean up their industry. The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists is considering joining the action before the Court.

So far, the government has not responded to the growing swirl of charges and legal actions.

True, in the current political climate, media organizations and their employees do not face the repression, bans, jail terms, and even floggings of the past. But the influx of large amounts of money could do more damage than any of those abuses. Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin Ebrahim, a retired Supreme Court Associate Justice, has apparently not been able to stop the use of such direct and indirect spending. Even though he is seen as a man of unblemished character–he once refused to take an oath of office under the military government of General Zia ul Haq–the fear is that Ebrahim, 84 and not in the best of health, is not up to the challenge of overseeing Pakistan’s first legitimate change of leadership by ballot, let alone reining in the massive corruption linked to it.

So far, a few news channels have resisted the huge amounts on offer, but with the election so many months away the question is how long they can hold out. A few people and news organizations may become wealthy, but their success will come at the cost of a free and credible media.

from Committee to Protect Journalists

Egypt – Egyptian government announces new sanctions on satellite television channels

8 Aug

8 August 2012

(EOHR/IFEX) – 6 August 2012 – The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) expressed serious concern about an announcement made by Minister of Investment Osama Salah about satellite television channels throughout the country.

The Minister has put into place a punitive system that includes issuing warnings, notices, suspensions, and ultimately the revoking of licenses when deemed necessary. With a full understanding of the implications of such an endeavor, EOHR considers this a strong indication of a serious decline in the status of freedom of opinion, expression, and the press under the new presidential regime.

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, President of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, affirms that the issuing of such a warning to impose strict sanctions on Egyptian satellite channels is inappropriate and contradictory to the nature of the current post-revolutionary period.

Dependent upon the enhancement and effective promotion of freedom of opinion and expression, this phase must not be hindered by regressive measures. The imposition of such sanctions on media outlets is not only a hindrance to the progression of our nation, but a serious contradiction to the promises made by President Morsi to preserve and promote freedom of opinion and expression to the extent that they would be enshrined within the new Constitution.

It is in light of this regressive contradiction that the EOHR calls upon the Egyptian authorities to alter their policies as regards freedom of opinion and expression and the right to the open exchange of information, especially within the post-revolutionary era. The EOHR also calls upon the authorities to put an end to its policy of direct censorship that remains an outdated relic of the previous regime. The practices of the old regime included storming into satellite channel headquarters, threatening to shut down media outlets and revoking their licenses. Also, prosecuting activists and bloggers alike are not practices that can be tolerated in any capacity during this period of constructive change. It is in this regard that EOHR calls upon President Morsi and the Egyptian Government to adopt an effective strategy towards the promotion of the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, and the press. Any policies that would hinder such core values and rights, such as the imposition of the sanctions expressed by the Minister of Investment, would be a detrimental set back to the human rights situation in Egypt.


Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
8/10 Mathaf El Manial St
Manial El Roda
eohr (@)
Phone: +20 22 3636811/3620467
Fax: +20 22 3621613

via IFEX

Americas – Guía Interactiva: estrategias de lobbying en la ONU sobre libertad de expresión

8 Aug
Guía Interactiva: estrategias de lobbying en la ONU sobre libertad de expresión – IFEX

Un aporte de la Red Internacional de Derechos Humanos -RIDH- y la Alianza IFEX-ALC para organizaciones, medios y periodistas, interesados en desarrollar estrategias de incidencia ante diferentes mecanismos provistos por el sistema de derechos humanos de la ONU pertinentes con la libertad de expresión y de prensa.

via IFEX

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