Gianni Marilotti speaks
I am honoured to be here, both as a member of the Human Rights Committee of the Council of Europe and as a coordinator of the Italian Parliamentarian Intergroup for the Monitoring of Julian Assange case (which includes both Italian members of Parliament and Italian members of the European Parliament). The group has been founded just after a conference organised at the Italian Senate, where also Julian Assange’s father John Shipton spoke. Our aim is to monitor the upcoming hearings scheduled in the UK in relation to the extradition request to the United States.
The cross-party observatory which we have been building will focus on the human rights violation that the Wikileaks publisher is facing. In relation to this, I was impressed by Professor Melzer’s words. We will also focus on the further human rights violations that Mr Assange could face in case he is extradited to the US. We are aware the violations he is facing at the moment damage his health at such a level that according to a report by independent doctors also his life is actually put at risk.
Since the use of the US Espionage Act against a publisher generates serious concerns regarding the impact that this will have at a global level on the freedom of the press and on the protection of investigative journalism, our parliamentarian Intergroup aims to bring to the attention of the European and Italian institutions the conflict between the extradition of Julian Assange and the freedom of information and of speech considered as fundamental principles which we put as foundation of the European democracies.
For this reason we monitor the extradition hearings with the aim to verify and discourage the irregularities which have been often reported by segments of the civil society committed to build an independent observatory on the facts.
We believe it is important to highlight the fact that the unfair treatment and human rights violations that he is apparently facing are not compatible with the foundations of the European democracies, which gave themselves laws and principles related to the respect of the human being, principles that are not negotiable.
This failure in ensuring the respect of fundamental rights is even more unbelievable if we consider that the individual who is facing them is only accused of having disclosed real facts.
We should be surprised and in a certain way outraged by by the cautious silence kept by some states not only on Julian Assange’s situation but also on the facts revealed by him through the Wikileaks work.
These silence seemed to authorise or support the US and the United Kingdom’s behaviour in relation to an individual who is apparently deprived of the right to prepare his defence and deprived as well of his right to dignified psychophysical conditions.
We have the duty to stop being silent and to stop the one that seems to be a global warning according to which we don’t have the right to know the truth about the facts and not even the right to disclose it to the public.
Who is actually determining that Assange violated some kind of rule when he was acting according to his right to be a journalist or a publisher? Who wants to claim the right to say that the citizens must be prevented from becoming aware of the truth?
All these are questions that free and democratic institutions like this Council of Europe should ask themselves.
As well as we have the duty to ask ourselves if a possible extradition to the United States could put the latter above the human rights obligations or above the national and international regulation of the freedom of the press, which is crucial in the democratic states.
Let’s remind ourselves that in the United States there is a prison called Guantanamo where one can stay locked without time limitation and without having been convicted through a normal, fair trial.
We have the duty to question ourselves, to monitor the facts and, if necessary, to take action. This duty comes directly from the democratic mandate whom we received by our free parliaments and by our citizens.