Saturday 17 February 2018 the Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights organized the public encounter “Right to Know and Free Press” in the office of the Institute in the Sicilian city of Siracusa, where the Institute is located. The meeting was moderated by Massimo Leotta, journalist at La Sicilia, to continue the road towards the affirmation of the citizens’ right to know how, why and what governments decide in their name.
Departing from this principle, Secretary General of the Siracusa Institute Ezechia Paolo Reale (who is also a member of the Scientific Council of the Global Committee for the Rule of Law “Marco Pannella” GCRL) explained how this right should be developed and how it can be affirmed within the ambit of international human rights to ensure democratic oversight of State institutions and the primacy of the rule of law also with regard to private (multinational) actors.
Laura Harth, representative of the Nonviolent Radical Party Transnational Transparty and coordinator of the GCRL Scientific Committee, highlighted how Prof. Cherif Bassiouni‘s premonition of how States would attempt to block the right to know at every step of the way is unfortunately true. However, positive signals have emerged, not in the least in the form of the recent affirmation made by the Ombudsman of the European Union who stated that democratic rights can but be exercised when citizens are proactively informed during the decision-making process, allowing both for their intervention in that process and for an informed vote at electoral turns, and that any practice counter to that principle amounts to bad governance. In line with affirmations of the previous Ombudsman, the role of traditional media must be restored in terms of responsibility, independence and public trust, to ensure such a right may be efffectively implemented.
Affirmation welcomed by Paolo Borrometi, journalist and president of the association Articolo 21, who has been living under police protection since 2014 after having denounced organized crime in his home region. Mr. Borrometi underlined the obligation of journalists to report the truth, and not to give in to pressure or convenience, as citizens have a right to be informed. At the same time, he launched an appeal to ask for attention for the grave pressures journalists around the world are subjected to.
Watch the meeting on the website of Radio Radicale (in Italian)