« I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it» ( Evelyne Beatrice Hall, citation often misattributed to Voltaire ; it became paradigm of freedom of expression )
1948: Universal Declaration Of Human Rights Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. (Art 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December, 1948) Free and well-developed press is the foundation stone of the democratic society .
2011- The defense of media freedom continues to be a battle Economic development and institutional reform do not suppose necessarily respect for fundamental rights. “ All around the world the defense of media freedom continues to be a battle, a battle of vigilance in the democracies of old Europe and a battle against oppression and injustice in the totalitarian states around the world”. (Jean-Francois- Julliard, general secretary of “Reporters without Borders”)
Accordingly to Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House or Osce, there is a deteriorating press freedom situation in the European Union and the 2010 index confirms this trend.
The European Union is not a homogenous whole as regards media freedom. On the contrary, the gap between good and bad performers continues to widen.
While 8 members of the EU’s 27 members continue to be in last years in the top of ranking as freedom of press, almost another half of countries is very low in the ranking.
According to Reporters without borders, thirteen of the EU’s 27 members are in the top 20, but some of the other 14 are very low in the ranking.
Italy is 49th, Romania is 52nd and Greece and Bulgaria are tied at 70th.
"There is an urgent need for the European countries to recover their exemplary status." (Jean -Francois Julliard, RWB)
The falling into the index of some European members may determine European Union to lose its position as world leader in respect for human rights.
And if that were to happen, how could it be convincing when it asked authoritarian regimes to make improvements?
Italy has one of the lowest levels of press freedom in Europe. A 2010 report by FH classified Italy as "partly free", the only country in western Europe, also ranking it behind most former communist states of eastern Europe. Italy is placed equal to Burkina Faso and in Slightedge over El Salvador. Italy holds a dramatic European record: in the past three years 200 journalists have been intimidated or threatened or ended up under police protection.
According to a report made by the Washington based think tank Freedom House, in 2010 Italy was on the 75th place from the 196 countries rated. The previous positions are occupied by Benin, Hong Kong and India and the successive by an former communist country, Bulgaria. And , conforming with the same independent organization, information in Italy is just partly free. Please see the following link: http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=560&year=2010
Italy: an anomaly in the Western Europe
the conflict of interest between the holding of political status of the prime minster Silvio Berlusconi and his private economic and media interests;
repeating meddling in the administration of RAI, Italian state television;
dismissal of important journalists such as EnzoBiagi, Santoro;
the media harassment of the director of Catholic daily “Avvenire”;
the controversies with the magazine Christian Family;
the repeated attacks to some inconvenient broadcasts ( such as “Anno Zero” realized by Michele Santoro or the broadcast of investigative journalism “Report”) ;
the invitation to publicity boycott addressed by the Italian prime minster to business men against the publications on the proscription list;
proceedings to publications as “Repubblica” and “Unità” ;
the forbiddance of the promotion on RAI Italian National Television channels of “Videocracy” movie.
Relationship between Berlusconi and media freedom in ItalyPower and freedom are incompatible According to Freedom House, the main causes of Italy partly free status : concentration of media ownership : print and broadcasting media ; independent media institutions threatened by intergovernmental interference; monopoly over advertising revenues ( therefore economic control) . Reporters Without Borders: “The grave episodes of violation of freedom of press could determine Berlusconi be added to our list of predators of freedom of information. He would be the first for an European leader.”
Relationship between Berlusconi and media freedom in Italy International Press Institute (IPI) The absence of effective conflict of interest legislation,-accordingly to IPI Press Freedom & Communications Manager Anthony Mills- has resulted in a degree of television media concentration in Berlusconi’s hands that negatively affects the plurality and diversity of information to which citizens in a democracy are entitled.”
The politicization of public broadcaster RAI is worrisome: “While it is clear that this politicization pre-dates Prime Minister Berlusconi’s rise to political prominence, it appears to have intensified under his leadership. A notable example was the taking off air of three programs, following an announcement by Prime Minister Berlusconi. The shows were subsequently reinstated by magistrates’ decisions”. “Please tell me, in which other “democratic“ country the prime minister could afford to address business people in the following way: “ I urge you on not to invest in the newspapers that criticize me? (Giuseppe Giulietti, founder of the Journalistic Association “ The 21-st Article”)
11 march 211. The OSCE Representative on freedom of the media, DunjaMijatović, condemned continued intimidation and threats against investigative journalists in Italy and urged the Italian authorities to take action and investigate all such cases.
“I am deeply concerned by the climate of violence and intimidation against journalists reporting on such serious matters of public interest, as the organized crime,” Mijatović affirmed. “Attempts to silence investigative journalism undermine democratic values. It is even more alarming that these attacks appear to take place in an atmosphere of impunity.”
28 February 2011- Attack against Fabio Cosma Colombo, journalist of daily Metropolis . Near the city of Salerno, Colombo was beaten unconscious in the presence of a police officer, who failed to intervene.
1march, 2011- Threatening letter with bullets addressed to four prominent investigative journalists, such as Michele Santoro, Marco Travaglio, Gianni Barbacetto and Peter Gomez.
Journalists threatened for reporting on murder;
Local authorities’ harassment of journalists and media outlets who criticize the official investigation in connection with the Kercher murder, as well as the investigation into the Monster of Florence serial killings;
Journalists should not be fearful to conduct their own investigations into sensitive matters or to speak openly and criticize officials. In a democratic country such as your own, one that is an integral part of the European Union, such fear is unacceptable.
IPI ( International Press Institute): the difficulties Italian journalists face in covering organized crime, particularly in regions in the South of the country in which organized crime syndicates project significant influence
Increased intimidation of journalists by organized crime and far-right groups (mafia), especially in the South of the country . Journalists that are making troublesome inquires risk to be assassinated. The writer and journalist Roberto Saviano, author of “Gomorrha”; Italy’s other mafia” has to live under permanent police escort.
The freedom of press in Italy does “exist on the paper, but not much on the print paper and almost anything at all on the television” (Marco Travaglio, at the decernation of the freedom of Press Price by DJV Association of German Journalists)
“I want everyone to remember what the value of press freedom is. It must no longer be the case that expressing yourself means paying with your soul, your body, your blood. That is freedom of the press.” (Roberto Saviano, writer and journalist, author of “Gomorra” ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1SMth99NlA