A Maltese solution protecting against SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation) and libel tourism is legally possible but requires a reassessment of the fundamental right to freedom of expression in today’s digital world, the Malta Information Technology Law Association said.

Referring to the the Private Member’s Bill presented to Parliament by the Nationalist Party, it said that freedom of speech is a fundamental human right enshrined in Article 41 of the Constitution of Malta and other applicable international treaties and conventions, and the protection of such right is necessary both offline and online.

“Any Maltese person against whom a foreign defamation judgement is entered should be recognised the right at law in Malta to bring an action in front of the Maltese courts seeking that such foreign defamation judgment is repugnant to the rights enshrined in our Constitution and applicable laws and the right to seek damages,” it said.

“The obstruction or interference on the rights of journalists and persons habitually working in this field, through the filing (or threat of filing) of foreign defamation lawsuits has a chilling effect on the right to freedom of expression and attacks the right of the Maltese public to receive information on matters of public importance.”

The association noted that there were no harmonised laws, at a European, US Federal or international level regarding SLAPP and that the situation in the US is still very fragmented on this front.

MITLA will be in the coming weeks organising a workshop to discuss the current local scenario. Details will be given at a later date.

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