• Mon. Oct 3rd, 2022

Paolo Berizzi, an Italian journalist living under 24-hour police protection

ByJanice K. Merrill

Jun 3, 2022

Global Voices of Freedom Series, Episode 10:

Paolo Berizzi from The Republic The newspaper has been under 24-hour police protection for three years after receiving death threats from neo-fascist groups it reported on. This is the final episode of our “Global Voices of Freedom” series.

This content was published on June 3, 2022 – 09:00

Carlo Pisani

Michele Novaga, Bruno Kaufmann and Carlo Pisani

When it comes to freedom of the press, Italy is certainly not in the lead. According to Reporters Without Borders, it ranks 41st in the world. Last year, 25 journalists had to be protected by the police 24 hours a day due to credible threats and attacks. New cases of bullying are being reported almost every day, according to Italy’s Interior Ministry.

Berizzi, a journalist from Bergamo in northern Italy, is one of those 25. He specializes in reporting on the activities of neo-fascist groups in Italy, and as a result has been under police protection since 2019. This is a special case because he is the only journalist who needs an escort for political reasons: all the others are threatened by the mafia and organized criminal groups.

Berizzi has been writing about the return of neo-fascism and neo-Nazis for 20 years in surveys, articles and books.

“In Italy there is a problem of fascism, or rather of various forms of fascism, because there are different types,” he explains. “In recent years, these have appeared because we underestimated them and made them normal. Thanks to ideal conditions for their return, racist, discriminatory and nostalgic impulses have resurfaced among the elected representatives who have taken the oath to the Italian Constitution, among European parliamentarians and the representatives of institutions who want to convince us that fascism is not not only negative but also responsible for good things.

Looking back, Berizzi says he wouldn’t change anything, even if he could. “I would do everything I did again. For me, journalism is either a civic action, or it is not. Either it serves to denounce phenomena that undermine our peaceful coexistence and our daily life, or it abdicates its main function.

He adds: “We are one of the few countries to have so many journalists under police protection, and that is not normal. On the contrary, it is a sign that journalists are struggling to do their job. In a free country, no journalist should be escorted and protected by the police. The fact that there are so many journalists forced to live under armed protection is a sign of defeat for the state, which must protect those who are threatened.

Paolo Berizzi is the last of our “Global Voices of Freedom”.

Global Voices of Freedom Series