Time for a rethink on criminal libel laws, Muscat says

Labour says reform of criminal defamation will be taken up by new Labour government.

Labour leader Joseph Muscat
Labour leader Joseph Muscat

Weeks dominated by libel suits and criminal defamation proceedings have sent a costly reminder that Malta's press laws have still not yet jettisoned imprisonment as the highest form of punishment for criminal libel and defamation.

Labour leader Joseph Muscat today said he was in agreement that criminal libel should be discussed and reformed, while saying that even the ban on news on the day of reflection - the day before people go to vote - should be given a rethink.

Muscat was fielding questions by the press following a visit at Betsonn gaming company.

"Criminal libel is one of the reforms that needs to be discussed. We must see what type of legislation can help the media to do its work, but that at the same time make sure that the media is aware of its responsibilities," Muscat said, adding that a Labour government would be open to reforms.

Asked whether he agreed with Labour candidate Manuel Mallia's decision to seek imprisonment in the defamation case he instituted against PN secretary-general Paul Borg Olivier, Muscat said that this was currently available under Maltese law and Mallia was availing of this law. 

Muscat was also asked what sense did election silence on the day of reflection make, barring media from reporting and discussing any political items the day before the election, when the same discussions would be carried out in the social media world.

Muscat conceded that it was time to carry a holistic review of the law, including that of the votes, to reflect the times of the day. "The law on the day of reflection was written at a time when there existed only newspapers, television and radio. Today, these conventional means are almost becoming secondary... One surely cannot censure the Internet," Muscat added.

We need a complete overhaul of our judiciary system it has simply come to a grinding halt since nobody seems to want to effect any changes in our outdated system.
Qed niehu l.impressjoni li George Farrugia kien jaghti rigali lil membri tal-Bord dwar ix-xiri taz-zejt biex jaghlqu halqhom jekk jinkixef xi haga. Tghid hekk kien qed isir ?
Another reform for an outdated constitution. The day of reflection has been abused of by the PN in the past, by spreading lies and misinformation just before this day. A prime minister in the past used this tactic and found guilty.