The Justice Minister and previous ONE propagandist, Jonathan Attard has just held a press conference where he gave to the public a litany of lies about a very deceiving press reform. The minister has announced that he will be presenting the bill to parliament as it is without handing it over to public consultation first. This is a total sham of reform because it came without consultation and the reform itself is wrong.
The government is pretending to have held consultations with the press about this reform, but this is a lie. The government appointed a pro-government committee composed of government lackeys to rubber stamp its reform. Kurt Sansone, the secretary of the Institute of Maltese Journalists is an employee of the government’s favourite propagandist, Saviour Balzan who sits on the pseudo-consultation committee with the other government stooge, Carmen Sammut. Matthew Xuereb from the Times of Malta, seems to have gone along with the government’s interests, apparently, ingratiating himself as he was flattered by the government. Really? Times of Malta? So, you don’t even have a position on this mess?
The government is not enacting reform in favour of the press – it is legislating against it by enacting foreign libel sentences in Malta by capping them at the local damages limit, instead of barring them altogether. This is not the way Europe is headed with regards to SLAPP and the government can present a much better reform which is more consistent with what real journalists need in contrast to what government-greased specialists like Carmen and Saviour may propose. Both the UK and the EU are in the process of presenting legislation which will ban SLAPP altogether so while SLAPP will eventually be banned in Europe, Malta will have legislation which will allow it.
There is another insane thing in the reform. The government will appoint a committee including the head of the armed forces and the security services to supervise the security of journalists. This is insane. So, instead of going after corruption and criminals, the government protects corrupt politicians and criminals from prosecution and in the meantime will create a military committee to supervise journalists. Things are upside down in Malta.
This government is totalitarian and has total contempt for the press. There is no way I will ever allow the government to supervise me via a military committee and I will be making arrangements that this is not even legally possible.
Jonathan said another thing during the press conference. He also said that the government intends to go ahead by re-introducing criminal libel under the guise of an “anti-cyberbullying law”.
Congratulations to the useful tools that have been taken for a ride at the expense of us journalists and the free press. You should be really proud of what you have done. A totalitarian and sham of a reform.
The forced government press reform can be downloaded below.