Democracy needs a free and independent press. In this report, the sub-committee recognises the need to give attention to the most exposed journalists: local and investigative journalists who are more often subject to threats, work in difficult contexts and do not have legal offices behind them to protect them. The precariousness in the journalistic profession leads to a further weakening especially in cases where journalists have to face threats from organised crime.
There is a need to promote funding opportunities to prevent cuts from hitting those small newspapers which in complex and difficult territories represent a fundamental instrument of resistance against organised crime.
The report presents the results of over thirty hearings the sub-committee held with media freedom associations. Three main elements are highlighted:
- Police protection for journalists is more and more perceived as a privilege by politicians. It is not possible to 'threaten' its withdrawal in order to exert pressure when a journalist expresses different opinions to the political orientation of the government.
- SLAPPs: the need for a rule that provides the payment of a fine proportional to the size of the compensation sought. Concerns were aroused during the hearings by the increase in the number of politicians (especially mayors) threatening lawsuits for 'damage to the city's image', a legally non-existent damage. SLAPPs are frequently used as a means of pressure by organised crime figures to intimidate and target journalists and editors.
- The need to combat job insecurity: freelancers must be ensured greater economic security and professional dignity.
The report stresses that there are two ways to threaten inconvenient journalists or magistrates: either with threats and intimidation, or delegitimisation by politics.
An investigative journalist stated that 'information on organised crime is in its twilight years, because those reporters who have been covering them for years are perceived as inconvenient in their newsrooms and are less and less protected in case of attacks. Tags:
Safety of journalists
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