The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom in a statement this afternoon condemned the insults faced by Italian journalist Nello Scavo as he left the court in Valletta, earlier today. Scavo was testifying in the criminal case against Neville Gafà, who had threatened him online. Upon leaving the hearing, Nello Scavo and the author of this blog were insulted with vulgar epithets shouted in Italian by a crowd of people who had amassed in apparent support of Gafà.
The ECMPF also welcomed the fact that the court magistrate today recognised the editorial staff of Avvenire and the National Federation of the Italian Press (FNSI) as civil parties in the criminal trial. The organisation said this “gives appropriate recognition to the chilling effect on media freedom of threats against a reporter, beyond the immediate case at hand.”
“We further recall that the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was preceded by years of verbal threats, attacks on her home, vexatious legal actions and other forms of harassment. Verbal threats from government officials and high-profile individuals, in particular, demonise the media and independent scrutiny and can, if unaddressed, lead to physical acts of violence and send a message of impunity.”