The Malta Independent 18 January 2019, Friday

Jason Azzopardi challenges President to publicly call for investigation of hate speech in PL groups

Tuesday, 15 May 2018, 21:35 Last update: about 9 months ago

Shadow speaker for the environment Jason Azzopardi has called for the President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca to leave several Labour Party Facebook groups which have shared threatening, insulting and aggressive images and comments against members of the Opposition as well as anti-corruption activists.

The Shift News published an investigation into several PL Facebook group which each have several thousands of members. It produced screen shots and reproduced extracts of comments posted in each of the closed groups supplied to them by members inside these groups.


It found threatening language against non-Labour politicians, anti-corruption activists and those who support murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

“Many of the comments appear to breach Malta’s Data Protection Act and Article 82A of the Criminal Code, which carries a term of imprisonment of six to 18 months for threatening, abusive or insulting words used to stir up violence,” the news portal wrote.

In his adjournment speech in Parliament on Tuesday evening, Azzopardi highlighted how President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Minister Konrad Mizzi, Minister Chris Cardona and two officials within the Justice Ministry are all members of such group, with the latter being administrators of two of the PL support groups in question.

Azzopardi posed a number of questions to the President, namely whether she is aware of being in these groups after being a member for a number of years, whether it is possible that she had not seen the hate speech posted repeatedly, why, 24 hours after the article was posted online about her membership, has she not left the groups and why she has not yet disassociated herself.

President Coleiro Preca had called for a law against cyber bullying in April 2017.

Turning his guns on the Prime Minister, Azzopardi asked:

“Prime Minister, do you acknowledge that these are hate groups? Do you agree with those who celebrated the murder of a mother and a journalist? Are you aware that this is cyber bullying?

“Does a liberal government lead through social media lynching? Doe the Prime Minister know that he is part of a group that instigates physical violence? Will he publically disassociate himself from these groups which use language of hatred, threats and invitations to violence?

“Prime Minister, do you agree with people sharing personal details of civil society activists with the purpose of intimidating them in breach of Data Protection laws?

“Prime Minister, do you know that you lead a government that instigates attacks against citizens of its own country?”

He also called for the President to leave the Facebook groups, condemn them and all those running them, and publically call for the Police Commissioner to initiate criminal action against those who are “clearly” breaking the law.


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