Media experts report presented to government

Report is part of wider consultation process for the Media Protection Bills, which aim to protect and strengthen the media and journalists

Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia has handed the report prepared by the Committee of Media Experts regarding the protection of journalists to Prime Minister Robert Abela.

The report is part of a wider consultation process for the Media Protection Bills, aimed at protecting and strengthening the media. The three bills are currently in the First Reading stage, as the Institute of Maltese Journalists had asked for an extension to the consultation process regarding the bills.

In a press statement, the Prime Minister said that government is determined to continue implementing legal reforms that continue to safeguard journalists and their work from actions such as Slapp Suits which paralyze the press.

Justice minister Jonathan Attard was also present for the presentation of the report.

The committee, chaired by Judge Michael Mallia was set up in January 2022, following the recommendations of the Public Inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, which Mallia also chaired.

One of the first tasks of the committee was to review and give feedback on legislation proposed by the government to enhance the protection of journalists and strengthen freedom of expression.

The feedback was formally delivered on 1 June and just before parliament returned from its summer recess, Justice Minister Jonathan Attard published the Bills, taking on board a substantial part of the feedback but leaving out significant aspects.

Subsequently, Matthew Xuereb and Kurt Sansone, president and general secretary of the IĠM respectively threatened to quit the committee unless media protection legislation tabled in parliament is withdrawn.

After a meeting with the two journalists, Prime Minister Robert Abela agreed to freeze media protection legislation tabled in parliament and wait for a public consultation process to take place.