HomeWorldCommemorating World Press Freedom Day: Where does Malta stand?

Commemorating World Press Freedom Day: Where does Malta stand?

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Marking World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday, the International Press Institute (IPI) published a message of support for “trailblazing” journalists and newsrooms who “hold the powerful to account and make our democracies stronger and our societies safer”.

Citing The Shift as one such example, it said, “The Shift News has led the way in investigating and explaining the sources and proliferation of disinformation campaigns in Malta going back to 2018”, while noting The Shift’s “exhausting freedom of information (FOI) battle with the Maltese government”.

The Shift has won 11 of 18 appeals filed in court while simultaneously battling 40 challenges to FOI requests before the Appeals Tribunal.

In commemoration of this year’s 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, Committee to Protect Journalists president Jodie Ginsberg listed concrete methods for governments to keep journalists safe, including the creation of an enabling media environment, an end to lawfare against journalists, proper law enforcement training on working alongside the press and better use of targeted sanctions.

Press freedom organisation Article 19 said that press freedom day is a vital reminder of the work yet to be done in the field, calling particular attention to a recently published report on how courts worldwide respond to SLAPPs, vexatious lawsuits intended to silence journalists.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) highlighted efforts across Europe intended to promote journalist safety, such as the opening of a journalist safety training centre in Greece; an initiative in the Netherlands that saw the state, employers and unions come together for the introduction of a national mechanism for journalist protection; and the opening of police-journalist workshops in Germany for improved dialogue between law enforcement and the press.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also issued its annual World Press Freedom Index for 2023 on Wednesday, ranking Malta in 84th place worldwide, down six points from last year and once again labelling the media environment as “problematic”.

Last Thursday, the CPJ also issued a report which drew attention to the gap between the European Union’s ideals for media freedom and the actual reality in member states.

The CPJ specifically noted how “The gangland-style murders of prominent investigative journalists, including Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017 in Malta and Ján Kuciak in 2018 in Slovakia, shook the narrative on press freedom in Brussels.”

Since then, the Maltese government has not convicted anyone with the masterminding of Caruana Galizia’s murder, and government initiatives ostensibly intended to strengthen the local media landscape have been mired in delays and conflicts of interest, with prime minister Robert Abela continually refusing to listen to experts’ advice or engage in meaningful discussion with independent media.

                           

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