The uncomfortable truth
Aware of how good governance has been thrown to the wind and the rule of law often respected in the breach, many may not have been surprised to learn that Malta dropped 12 places in the Reporters Without Borders’ 2019 press freedom index. But one may be perturbed, even shocked, to realise that this island has fallen 31 places since 2016.
In his now characteristic I-am-on-top-of-everything attitude, the Justice Minister reacted saying the government is committed to ensure journalists can work “without hindrance and in all freedom, in accordance with the core values of a democratic society”.
He mentions the Media and Defamation Act, which, among other things, abolished criminal libel, introduced mediation and prohibited the multiplicity of libel lawsuits on the same journalistic report. The minister then notes that, last year, 19 civil libel cases were filed, a third of the amount presented in 2017 and a quarter when compared to 2008, considering this as being indicative “of the growing levels of freedom of journalistic expression”.
The minister may be right, however, the drop in the number of libel cases opened in 2018 could also have been a direct and indirect result of Daphne...