Concerns over anti-rave draft law and death threats towards journalists intensify after far-right wins elections
Anti-rave draft law threatens freedom of peaceful assembly
On 31st October 2022, the recently elected far-right government, led by Giorgia Meloni from Fratelli d’Italia, put forward a draft decree law, in principle aimed at tackling the organisation of rave parties in Italy and “re-establishing order” in the country. This initiative came after the shutting down of a rave party organised in Modena over Halloween weekend. However, opposers of the text and jurists point out that the formulation of the decree is very vague and that the term “rave party” is never mentioned. On the contrary, the draft law refers to gatherings of more than 50 people, private or public, that may cause problems for public order or safety. Hence, the broadness of the text may lead to restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly. According to the proposal, organisers of such gatherings may be imprisoned for between three to six years and fined up to 10,000 euros. The proposal also allows for the use of wiretapping. Many representatives of the opposition have defined the measure as disproportionate and denounced the risks to civic freedoms.
Neo-fascist demos and celebration on the anniversary of Mussolini's march in Rome
On 28th October 2022 around 2,000 neo-fascists gathered in Predappio, Emilia Romagna, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the “march on Rome” by Benito Mussolini and his armed troops, that marked the violent seizure of power by the dictator. The demonstrators performed the stiff-armed salute and expressed support for the government of Giorgia Meloni. The protests extended over the entire weekend and concluded with a march towards San Cassiano, the cemetery where the Mussolini family are buried. Opposition representatives, such as the former justice minister Andrea Orlando, commented that the government should have focused more on condemning these worrying episodes for the democratic state of the country instead of focusing all their efforts on punishing participants of techno rave parties. Banners to celebrate the anniversary of the march on Rome were also hung by neo-fascists in the Italian capital. ANPI, the national association of partisans against nazi-fascism, organised counterdemonstrations in Predappio as well.
Defence minister threatens newspaper with defamation lawsuit
On 27th October 2022 newly appointed Defense Minister Guido Crosetto declared in a Tweet that he had instructed a law firm to proceed with a defamation lawsuit against the newspaper Domani. The accusations of defamation refer to a report authored by journalists Giovanni Tizian and Emiliano Fittipaldi published by the newspaper on the same day about the potential conflict of interest of the minister due to his links with the arms industry. Before being appointed as minister, Crosetto was the president of the Federation of Italian Companies for Aerospace, Defence and Security (AIAD), a large trade association of around 200 companies in the defence and weapons sector. He was also president of Orizzonte Naval Systems, a company which provides weapons system technology for warships, controlled by the two main Italian industrial groups (Fincantieri and Leonardo) operating globally in the defence domain. Crosetto declared that he had stepped down from all positions that could cause a conflict of interest and sold his shares in all the companies he was involved with. However, in a previous statement he had mentioned that he would have found it inappropriate to be appointed minister of defence due to his previous activity.
Prosecutor asks for six month jail time as punishment for journalists
On 17th October 2022 the prosecutor of the Italian city of Lecce asked for a six month jail sentence for three journalists who were accused of defamation by the former Minister of Labour, Teresa Bellanova, in 2014. The prosecutor requested this punishment after a hearing which was part of an eight-year long trial against journalists Mary Tota from Il Fatto Quotidiano, Danilo Lupo from La7 and Francesca Pizzolante from Il Tempo who reported on a labour lawsuit filed by the former Minister's press officer. On 20th October, the press officer won the labour lawsuit, thus confirming the allegations the journalists reported about, yet the journalists are still under investigation and a harsh punishment has been requested against them.
Journalists' unions and representative organisations, such as the national Order and the Italian National Press Federation, denounced that the journalists risked being criminalised for doing their jobs and reporting on a matter of public interest. The Italian Constitutional Court has urged the Parliament to remove all rules envisioning prison sentences for cases of press defamation except in cases of exceptional gravity in two court rulings in 2020 and 2021. Journalists also advocated for a comprehensive reform of both civil and criminal law in Italy to ensure that Italy respects European standards on freedom of expression. On 14th November 2022, a judge at the Court of Lecce dismissed the lawsuit against all three journalists after ruling that the reporting was factually accurate.
Leggo #Saviano in tendenza perché gli elettori di Meloni mi “invitano” a lasciare il Paese. Questi sono avvertimenti. Questa è l’Italia che ci aspetta. Stanno già stilando una prima lista nera di nemici della patria, alla faccia di chi diceva che il Fascismo è un’altra cosa. pic.twitter.com/iiSKxeEqaq— Roberto Saviano (@robertosaviano) September 26, 2022
Death threats to journalists intensify after far-right wins elections
Since 26th September 2022, following the election win of far-right party Brother of Italy, several journalists who expressed their critical views on the far-right movement in Italy and its connections with neo-fascism received violent messages and death threats. For instance, Repubblica journalist Fabio Berizzi has been threatened with physical attacks and was invited to commit suicide. A similar level of violent threats was made against Roberto Saviano, a renowned Italian journalist and author, who currently writes for l'Espresso, la Repubblica, The Post Internazionale and foreign media outlets.