Claudio Fava has worked as a journalist and film-maker in one of the most dangerous countries of the world: Italy. His father, the founding-editor of a Sicilian magazine, was murdered by the Mafia in 1984 and now Fava is a politician, fighting the mafia with words. As vice-president of the Italian Parliament’s Antimafia Commission, he believes it is a fight that they are slowly winning. In an interview with the ECPMF’s reporter at the 2015 Rome conference on press freedom, Fava assessed the current situation:
“It’s important to realise that we had nine journalists killed by the Mafia in the years of bullets” he says “It’s not over – absolutely not. We are in the middle of this fight.”
However, he believes the Mafia’s strategy has changed and now the organised criminal gangs prefer to keep a low profile: it is more convenient for them at the moment to attract less attention to their activities. But Fava fears their capacity for violence remains the same. He wrote a Hollywood film One Hundred Steps ( I cento passi) about the life and death of antimafia campaigner Giuseppe Impastato, winning the Venice film Festival prize for the best script in 2001.
In 2015 Fava believes that around 30 Italian journalists and broadcasters are living under round-the-clock police protection because of threats of violence or murder connected to stories they have written or were researching. He says that the physical protection of an armed guard is not enough, and that to truly protect journalists – and journalism – the state needs to guarantee their autonomy. Old habits die hard, says Claudio Fava “The old attitude of the powerful remains the same. They prefer silent journalism.”