Art censorship to be removed completely

Parliament will discuss a proposal to have art censorship removed completely, parliamentary secretary José Herrera says.

Parliamentary secretary for culture José Herrera
Parliamentary secretary for culture José Herrera

In the coming weeks Parliament will discuss a proposal to have art censorship removed completely.

Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government and Culture José Herrera said that he would be proposing amendments to the censorship law to the Cabinet of Ministers, which will then forward the amendments to Parliament.

"Over the years, artists have been arraigned in court because the law does not allow the use of language and imagery in artistic presentations, even if these were contextually acceptable."

Herrera added that thanks to these amendments, artists can have rest reassured that their artistic works cannot be banned unless they would be in breach of the classification law.

Just over a year ago, Parliament had approved amendemnts to the censorship law which stripped the Police of all powers related to classification of film and theatre. The amendments transferred all laws regulating the classification of film and theatre productions from the Police to the Ministry for Culture. The move came in the wake of an often-torturous censorship debate which was sparked more than once on the island over the last couple of years, impacting more than just the theatrical scene.

In 2012, Mark Camilleri, the editor of student pamphlet Realtà, and writer Alex Vella Gera had their acquittal from obscenity charges confirmed by the Appeals Court, after the Attorney General first appealed the original verdict in March 2011.

Judge David Scicluna confirmed the first sentence issued by Magistrate Audrey Demicoli in its entirety. Vella Gera and Camilleri were acquitted by Magistrate Audrey Demicoli, who noted in her judgment that the law did not provide clear definitions of 'pornography' and 'obscenity', and that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Article 208 of the Criminal Code had been breached.

Citing a recent Eurostat survey which placed Malta among the countries with the lowest rate of participation in cultural and artistic events, Herrera said it was his duty to encourage people, especially the younger generations, to participate in cultural events. This he said could only happen if the perception on culture and arts is changed.  


Well done for the new ammendments to this law which has been long overdue.
This is a very positive step but, for it to mean anything in practice, something also needs to be done about the other laws that can punish artists AFTER the fact, such as the obscenity and blasphemy laws. Artists who face the prospect of jail for offending public morals when this is so subjective are likely to "play safe".