Environmental activists organise civic actions and sit-ins
Civic actions on the environment
On 18th November 2022, a demonstration organised by Last Generation Italy - an environmental group - took place at an Andy Warhol exhibit in Milan. Five activists covered a car, which had been painted by Warhol, with flour and glued themselves to the vehicle. The activists were detained by police and accused of desecrating an art piece, which carries with it a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a 10,000 EUR fine.
On 7th December 2022, Last Generation Italy activists threw washable paint on the entrance of a renowned theatre in Milan, Teatro Alla Scala, on the same day as the opening season. Five activists carried signs calling for an end to oil and gas usage and were removed from the scene by police.
Journalists and activists detained at sit-in
On 19th November 2022, environmental activists occupied the private jets terminal in Ciampino airport, outside Rome. The action aimed to condemn the air and sound pollution caused by the private flights taking off from and landing at Ciampino. Police removed approximately 40 activists from the terminal. In addition, two journalists were arrested. The journalists were reportedly detained for four hours before being released and stated that excessive force had reportedly been used by police against the activists.
Proposed “anti-rave” decree amended
On 31st October 2022, the Italian government introduced an amendment to the so-called “anti-rave decree”. The originally-proposed decree had been criticised due to the threats it could pose to the right to peaceful assembly, as previously reported on the CIVICUS Monitor. The amendment removes the reference to danger caused to public order, which in the original text referred to the organisation of rave parties and would have increased the punishment for the violation thereof. However, for the organisers and supporters of such events, the same disproportionate measures apply, including a possible sentence of up to six years, up to 10,000 EUR fine, and the possibility for authorities to use surveillance measures.
Defamation used against journalists
On 15th November 2022, Italian journalist Roberto Saviano went to trial over accusations of defamation made by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. The trial relates to Saviano's comments during the TV show Piazza Pulita in 2020, when the journalist referred to Meloni as a “bastard” for using anti-migrant rhetoric. The hearings took place on 12th and 13th December 2022. The fourth hearing will take place in June 2023. Meloni's lawyer stated that they are considering dropping the charges against the journalist. PEN International urged Meloni to drop all charges against Saviano and to abide by Italy’s national and international obligations to uphold freedom of expression.
On 15th December 2022, Italian Senator Matteo Renzi, Italy's former Prime Minister, announced through his party's (Italia Viva) legal office his intention to sue journalist Marco Travaglio for defamation over the TV programme Otto e Mezzo, during which Travaglio remarked on an alleged connection Matteo Renzi has with Saudi Arabia's regime.
A defamation lawsuit filed by the former Minister of Labour Teresa Bellanova against three journalists was dismissed by the Court of Lecce on 14th November 2022. The Court ruled that the lawsuit had no legal ground, and that defamation did not take place.
SLAPP lawsuit against media outlet
On 15th December 2022, a company opened a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) lawsuit against the Italian investigative reporting project - IrpiMedia - in regards to an article in which the project looked into companies allegedly associated with entrepreneurs convicted of fraudulent bankruptcy or tax evasion and which also reportedly have ties to politics in some way.
Journalists prevented from covering migrant arrivals
In two cases, journalists have been prevented from reporting on the arrival of migrants and asylum seekers to Italian shores after they had been rescued at sea.
On 5th November 2022, in the port of Catania, Sicily, the authorities informed journalists that they could not access the port where a rescue boat with migrants had arrived. The decision drew criticism from national and international press freedom groups.
On 10th December 2022, the head of the cabinet of the prefecture in Salerno prohibited journalists from filming or photographing migrants who had arrived in the port city. The authority explained that the measure was intended to protect minors’ right to privacy. Critics of this decision, however, condemned the prohibition on journalists' work and accused the authorities of inhibiting the press.
Media workers attacked
On 29th November 2022, the car of the owner of the local television station Onda TV was shot at with an air gun three times, while the car was parked outside of the station. The motive behind the attack is unclear. The National Federation of the Italian Press commented on the incident, calling it “extremely serious”.
Also on 29th November, a TV crew from Italian public broadcaster RAI was verbally attacked by residents of Favara, a town near the south coast of Sicily, where a doctor was shot and killed by one of his patients. The residents asked the journalists to turn off their cameras and leave and this behaviour towards the journalists was reportedly aggressive.
On 13th December 2022, journalist Edoardo Sirignano was physically attacked by a mafia boss in the offices of the newspaper L’identità, where he works. Sirignano had previously received threats connected to reporting on mafia infiltration in Rome. The journalist was taken to the hospital and reported the attack to the police.
Civic Space Developments