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San Marino should not jeopardize media freedom

Visit to San Marino
Strasbourg 11/06/2015
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Public Palace and Statue of Liberty, San Marino

Public Palace and Statue of Liberty, San Marino

"San Marino should reconsider its current plans to regulate the work of journalists and ensure full respect of the right to report in the public interest” stated Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, after his visit to the country on 9-10 June. The Commissioner was referring in particular to recently adopted legislation conferring wide-ranging powers - including that to impose fines on media - to a primarily politically appointed body.

The Commissioner was heartened by the progress that San Marino achieved in recent years in two important areas, combatting violence against women and the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. “San Marino established a sound legal framework regarding violence against women and raised the awareness of its population on this phenomenon considerably. The next logical step should be the ratification of the Istanbul Convention without delay.”

The Commissioner also welcomed the fact that San Marino had been consistently improving the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities, acknowledging in particular the efforts to reduce recourse to substituted decision-making and to provide more community-based services. “However, like in all Council of Europe member states, much still needs to be done to fully implement the relevant international standards, for example by developing support systems to promote autonomy and independent living, and by improving access to the labour market for persons with disabilities, especially in the private sector.”

The Commissioner considered that LGBTI persons constituted another group in need of improved protection, including by affording legal protection for same-sex couples. “The fact that there is an ongoing debate on this issue is positive. I hope that San Marino will soon act in a sense that reflects the positive trend in Europe in this field".

There were still indications that foreign carers (badanti) were at risk of exploitation and abuse, as highlighted already by a number of international monitoring mechanisms. However, the Commissioner was pleased that the authorities appear to have acknowledged that the stay permit system is aggravating this vulnerability and that they intend to address it soon.

Finally, the Commissioner called on San Marino "to provide its equality bodies, the Commission for Equal Opportunities and the Authority for Equal Opportunities, with adequate resources in order to allow them to fulfill their tasks and to be able to reach out to all groups at risk of discrimination and violence”. He also encouraged the Sammarinese authorities to consider adopting a national human rights action plan and setting up a fully independent human rights body with a broad mandate.

The Commissioner's report on his visit to San Marino is forthcoming.