Prime Minister Robert Abela held a meeting with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro, at his office. During the meeting, Prime Minister Robert Abela underlined a number of reforms undertaken in the past two years to strengthen the institutional framework, governance, and the media sector. These reforms were implemented in parallel to other global challenges.
Prime Minister Robert Abela outlined the presentation of the three draft laws that offer the highest level of protection to journalists and the media sector overall ever given in Malta’s history. He added that a committee of media experts was appointed following the acceptance of the recommendations of the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The committee is chaired by Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia, who also led the public inquiry. Prime Minister Robert Abela referred to the agreement reached with the Caruana Galizia family and the Institute of Maltese Journalists (IGM) on the composition and terms of reference of the committee of experts.
The prime minister explained that following the recommendations by the committee, three draft laws were laid on the Table of the House of Representatives that will lead to an increase in the protection given to journalists. In fact, 87% of the committee’s recommendations were included in the media reform. The prime minister also underlined how Malta is introducing anti-SLAPP provisions in Maltese law, a first in the European Union.
Further to the above, the sentences for crimes committed against journalists will be more severe. During the meeting, it was made clear that, in the spirit of cooperation, there is no objection to further consultation on the draft laws, which are at the first reading stage. Prime Minister Robert Abela said the government is committed to continuing to implement reforms, as freedom of expression and the role of the media are two important pillars in a democratic society.
The prime minister praised the work carried out by the OSCE on media freedom, while Teresa Ribeiro thanked Prime Minister Abela and the Maltese Government for an open dialogue with the organisation she represents. She also took note of the work undertaken to further strengthen media freedom. Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade Ian Borg, Minister for Justice Jonathan Attard, the Permanent Representative of Malta to the OSCE Natasha Meli Daudey and Head of the Secretariat of the Office of the Prime Minister Glenn Micallef were present for the meeting.