Justice Minister Owen Bonnici this evening objected to remarks by Shadow Minister for Justice Jason Azzopardi yesterday, who likened the Media Defamation Bill to similar legislation in Banglasdesh, Iran and Russia.

This was because, according to Dr Azzopardi, those who commented on the Internet had to register with the government, a measure that eroded liberty and basic rights.

Dr Bonnici said Dr Azzopardi was referring to Clause 19 which made it mandatory for editors of news sites to register their names. He said Dr Azzopardi’s claim was incorrect and asked him to withdraw the remarks. If not, the Speaker should take further measures.

A shouting match between the Opposition and government members ensued with the Speaker deciding that there was no need for a debate on the issue as the minister would have a chance to rebut the claims during the debate on the Bill.

Dr Azzopardi had the last word, telling the Speaker: “I will not let the censorship minister censor me!”

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