The Criminal Code of San Marino foresees the following offences:
Defamation (Art. 183): Publicly alleging a fact that offends a person’s honour. Defamation is punishable with short-term detention or a daily fine of the second degree.
Insult (Art. 184): Publicly offending another person’s honour. Insult is punished with short-term detention or a daily fine of the second degree.
Aggravated defamation (Art. 185): Committing an act of defamation through the media. Aggravated defamation is punishable with imprisonment of the first degree, a fine, short-term detention of the second degree or a daily fine of the third degree.
Content that forms part of writings or speeches presented by the Grand and General Council (Art. 187) or part of proceedings before a judge (Art. 188) is privileged. Exemptions from liability can also be granted if the act was committed in response to a provocation (Art. 186).
A persons accused of crimes against honour may seek to prove the truth of the impugned accusation only in the following cases (Art. 189): if the offended persons consents, if the accusation is the subject of a pending criminal investigation or if the establishing the facts is a matter of public interest. Should the accusation be proved as true, the accused person will be exempted from criminal liability.
Criminal Defamation of Public Officials
Offence to high state officials (Art. 344): Offending the honour or prestige of members of the Grand and General Council, the Congress of State and the Council of Twelve, government ministries, judicial bodies or the office of the public prosecutor.
The act is punishable with imprisonment of the first degree or of the second degree if the act is committed in the presence of the high state officials name (Art. 345).
Offence to persons associated with court proceedings (Art. 349): Offending the honour or prestige of a clerk of the court, a court-appointed expert, an interpreter, a witness or another person associated with court proceedings. The act is punishable with imprisonment of the first degree.
Offence to public officials (Art. 382): Offending the honour or dignity of a public official in the official’s presence or direct communication with him, in relation to official function. The act is punishable with imprisonment of the first degree or with a daily fine of the third degree. If committed with violence or a serious threat, the punishment increases to imprisonment of the second degree.
Criminal Defamation of the Head of State
Offence to the Captains Regent (Art. 342): Offending the honour or prestige of the Captains Regent. The act is punishable with imprisonment of the second degree or of the third degree if committed in the presence of the Captains Regent (Art. 345).
Criminal Defamation of the State and its Symbols
Damage to the good name of the Republic by citizens abroad (Art. 333): Organising the dissemination of false news that harm the Sammarinese economy abroad, when conducted by citizens outside of state territory. The act is punishable with imprisonment of the second degree and a ban of the third degree on the holding of public office and the exercise of political rights.
Contempt for the Republic and its emblems (Art. 338): Publicly expressing contempt for the Republic of San Marino, its flag or other emblems. The act is punishable with imprisonment of the second degree. If committed by a Sammarinese citizen, a ban on the holding of public office and the exercise of political rights of the fourth degree is applied.
Criminal Defamation of Foreign Heads of State
Offence to representative of a foreign state (Art. 335): Publicly offending on Sammarinese territory a representative of a foreign state present in San Marino. Prosecution is at the request of the Captains Regent. The act is punishable with imprisonment of the second degree.
Criminal Defamation of Foreign States and Symbols
Criminal Defamation of the Deceased
Religious insult (Art. 260): Profaning the symbols of a religion that does not run contrary to public morality, profaning objects of worship or publicly mocking acts of worship. The act is punishable with imprisonment of the first degree. The same punishment applies to offences to the honour and dignity of a minister with respect to official function. Profaning the sacred relics of San Marino is punishable with imprisonment of the second degree.
Art. 128.1 is almost the only article in the Criminal Code for which a number of acquitted persons is much higher than that of convicted ones. Generally, Russian justice reveals significant tendency towards conviction, the accused predominantly are found guilty (less than 1 percent per year) . For instance, in 2015 for all elements of slander, there were 94 convicted and 511 acquitted persons. In 2014, there were 141 convictions and 663 acquittals; in 2013, 107 and 520, respectively. Thereby 98 to 99 per cent of acquittals concerning cases of slander result from the first paragraph of the article; for other elements of the offence there is virtually no acquitted and just a few convicted .
For Art. 148 of the Criminal Code (insult to religious feelings of believers), only a few criminal proceedings are instituted. Since the last amendments made in Art. 148 of the Criminal Code in 2013, there were just several criminal proceedings. An Izhevsk resident who published an image insulting to Muslims has been punished most severely – by compulsory community service for 200 hours . More frequently, if there are elements of fomenting of religious discord, the offences are qualified in accordance with Art. 282 of the Criminal Code (hatemongering and disparagement); judicial practice concerning this article is better developed and the provisions are formulated more clearly .
Criminal Law and Media
The continued existence of criminal defamation laws in San Marino was noted by Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, during an official visit in June 2015. In his report , Muižnieks recommended:
“The Commissioner notes that the Sammarinese authorities have not yet decriminalised defamation. Despite the measured approach of the Sammarinese courts, the Commissioner considers that the existing criminal provisions send a negative signal to journalists and encourages the Sammarinese authorities to consider repealing them, dealing with defamation through strictly proportionate civil sanctions only.”
Recent Legal Changes
Notes and Acknowledgements
Information for San Marino was originally collected by IPI as part of a study commissioned by the Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It is reprinted here with the permission of the OSCE. Last update: March 2017.
The information contained in this database is for informational and advocacy purposes only. If you are a journalist facing a defamation claim, you should seek legal advice from a qualified attorney. However, if you are unable to find such an attorney, IPI may be able to assist you in doing so. Please contact us at info(at)ipi.media.