Ten international press organisations have expressed concern at “a lack of transparent consultation" with civil society and key stakeholders in the wake of the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry.
In a joint statement, the NGOs urged the Prime Minister to engage in meaningful and transparent consultation going forward, in particular through publishing proposed legislation relating to media freedom.
The statement was signed by Article 19, the Association of European Journalists (AEJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), IFEX Index on Censorship, the International Press Institute (IPI), PEN International, and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
They said they will be monitoring closely the work, process and outcomes of the committee of experts set up to implement the Caruana Galizia murder inquiry recommendations.
The committee was set up earlier this week and will be led by Judge Michael Mallia.
In a statement, the NGOs said their work should be undertaken free of government influence and in the framework of:
- Malta’s international human rights obligations, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights;
- the recommendations of the Council of Europe, particularly that on the protection of journalists; and
- the European Commission’s recommendation on the protection, safety and empowerment of journalists.
The organisation said that in their meetings with Prime Minister Robert Abela, they emphasised the need for the full independence of the commission, that the terms of reference meet international standards and that the composition of the commission reflects the expertise in the role of the press in a democracy: knowledge and experience needed to effectively undertake the full scope of responsibilities.
They said that in October, they sought assurances from Abela to
- not amplify a policy of media regulation;
- ensure the passage of comprehensive legislation tackling Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs);
- improve access to information, engage in continuous transparent consultation and dialogue with civil society and journalists’ organisations; and
- contribute to changing the culture of how journalists are treated in Malta.
“While our offer of technical assistance to the Prime Minister has to date not been taken up, we continue to stand ready to assist the process,” they said.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us