The Malta Independent 22 October 2020, Thursday

OSCE representative urges protection of independent journalists, free expression

Thursday, 16 February 2017, 14:03 Last update: about 5 years ago

Intimidating journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia could restrict public debate and diminish media freedom in Malta, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said today.

“I follow with concern media reports of the pressure on Caruana Galizia for her critical work,” Mijatović said. “It is the job of journalists to report on issues of public importance and it is the job of the authorities to ensure that journalists can do so without being intimidated or threatened.”

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On 8 February a court upheld a request by the Economy Minister to freeze the bank account of Caruana Galizia for more than €47,000 for an article published on 30 January which compromised his consultant and him during a recent business trip to Germany. His consultant and the minister have filed four libel suits against the journalist.

“Initiating libel lawsuits for the work of journalists can very quickly chill free public discourse in any society,” Mijatović said, recalling that public figures must endure a higher threshold of criticism and scrutiny due to their public work. 

“In addition, the very unusual move to freeze significant financial assets of Caruana Galizia already depicts her as guilty,” Mijatović said. “Freedom of expression cannot stop at views deemed appropriate by those in power.”  

The Representative also noted with concern media reports that on 4 February the Economy Minister sued another journalist, Mario Frendo from the media outlet In-Nazzjon, in connection with the same issue.

“I call on the authorities to protect critical journalism and free speech,” she said. “I trust that they will remedy this situation by ensuring that Caruana Galizia and all journalists can freely carry out their important work.”

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