Malta’s Freedom of Information Act (FOI) is being challenged in the Constitutional Court by a team of Public Interest Litigation Network (PILN) lawyers and the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation. They are arguing that the remedies it provides are unconstitutional because they do not respect the right to freedom of expression and information.
The case, filed last week, is the first-ever to challenge the law and the misuse of its procedures to block or limit access to information within a reasonable time, the foundation said.
"The case aims to limit state authorities’ arbitrary refusals to provide information in the public interest and to reverse the culture of secrecy behind their claims of privacy and commercial sensitivity, enabling public interest journalism to hold power to account," the foundation said.
The case is based on FOI requests about a secret agreement, signed by Konrad Mizzi on behalf of Malta Government and by SOCAR Trading SA, and for a report on the feasibility of a second interconnector to Malta. The energy ministry had refused both requests on questionable grounds.
The application asks the court to:
- Declare that the energy minister’s refusal to provide access to the requested information violates the Constitutional right to free expression and information;
- Rule that the FOI Act’s remedies for rejected requests infringe an applicant’s fundamental rights;
- Declare null and void specific parts of the FOI Act that are in conflict with the Constitutional right to free expression and information;
- Take appropriate steps to offer redress to the applicant.
PILN members Claire Bonello, Alain Muscat and Joseph Mizzi filed the Constitutional case on behalf of the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation.
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