PN tables anti-SLAPP draft law aimed at protecting journalists

The Nationalist Party says that the government has undermined the rule of law over the past few years and that a free press was still under threat

File photo
File photo

The Nationalist Party has filed a draft legislation in parliament on Wednesday aimed to strengthen journalists’ protection from SLAPP and other actions that threaten a free press.

Strategic lawsuits against public participation aim to cripple and silence individuals or media entities via exorbitant financial damages lobbed their way.

The draft was tabled by Opposition Leader Adrian Delia, Deputy Nationalist Party Leader David Agius, and Therese Commodini Cachia, Jason Azzopardi, and PN whip Robert Cutajar.

“The rampant cases of corruption of this Labour government have undermined the rule of law in this country. Journalism, the independent media, and freedom of expression are essential pillars of a functioning democracy so that corruption is exposed. This is all threatened by SLAPP,” a PN statement read on Wednesday.

The party claimed that after the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, officials and entities, especially foreign, are still threatening activists and journalists with these kinds of lawsuits.

“We want litigation to be used as a tool to fight against the attacks on people’s rights to speak about and know about corruption. Maltese journalists need the highest kind of protection and legislators have a duty to see that this happens,” the PN said.

It added that the Labour government had not done anything substantial to protect journalists from SLAPP and went so far as to vote against the Opposition’s 2018 draft law to introduce safeguards from SLAPP.