When the Nationalist Party presented in parliament a set of legal bills to restore rule of law, the Justice Minister, Edward Zammit Lewis harked back with Orwellian discourse saying that these bills would cripple the Maltese economy. One of these bills criminalises the association of politicians with criminals – the same kind of criminal association that Edward Zammit Lewis had with Yorgen Fenech when Fenech was being accused of siphoning illegal funds to Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi through his Dubai-based company 17 Black. Zammit Lewis, a close friend to Joseph Muscat, is now pushing a law in parliament which will re-introduce criminal libel with a punishment of up to five years in prison and a €30,000 fine.
Edward Zammit Lewis is now conjuring up the logical fallacy that since the famous Handyside vs UK case explicitly says that the right to offend against a particular group of people is granted, therefore, we can introduce a law which criminalises the act of offending an individual. This is similar to criminal libel as we removed it a couple of years ago.
Basically, Edward Zammit Lewis is transposing the concept of defamation in printed matter which we deleted, into the digital world in a wide-ranging and undefined manner. The current law already criminalizes cyberbullying with the Electronic Communications Act and provisions in the criminal code, but what Edward Zammit Lewis is doing here is criminalising the right to offend through digital and electronic means and therefore by default transposing the idea of printed defamation into online cyber-bullying across any digital publication, both private and public. Say, I want to insult someone on a Facebook post, it would have been the same in concept and principle had I printed an article insulting that private person. Edward Zammit Lewis is applying the Draconian and undefined concept of offence, restricting free speech via an arbitrary and wide-reaching law on electronic publications of any type.
This is nothing less but Orwellian, and nefarious. Edward Zammit Lewis shouldn’t be the Justice Minister in the first place, and instead, he should have been indicted in court over his criminal association with Yorgen Fenech a while ago. He has no right to lecture us on cyberbullying and whatnot and it should be known that his intentions are nefarious. I will also be writing further posts in the coming days on how Edward Zammit Lewis is also subverting the rule of law and suppressing the consequences of the Daphne Caruana Galizia Public Inquiry.