The Malta Independent 3 June 2020, Wednesday

Revived Front Against Censorship says Media and Defamation Bill ‘crosses red lines’

Saturday, 4 March 2017, 10:22 Last update: about 4 years ago
From left: Mark Camilleri and Ingram Bondin
From left: Mark Camilleri and Ingram Bondin

The Front Against Censorship said today that it has been reconstituted after the publication of a bill which “crosses the line on a number of issues connected with the right to freedom of expression.”

It was referring to the Media and Defamtion Bill which, according to the government strengthens journalism, but according to many in the media field is a form of internet censorship.

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“Although we can concede that the bill is, in some respects, an improvement on the current situation, it also entails a number of setbacks. Government is proposing changes which contradict the principles which informed its electoral manifesto, particularly those regarding its commitment to the removal of censorship laws.”

The Front welcomed the removal of obscene libel and the fact that garnishees will no longer be issued in civil libel cases but took exception to the increase in damages which can be awarded for cases of civil libel (from €11,600 to €20,000), and that the Bill has completely failed in its stated aim of removing criminal libel. 

“The Front also feels it must express its dissatisfaction with the compulsory registration of news agencies, the new restrictions on the protection of sources, and the failure to remove laws prohibiting criticism of the President. The reasons for these concerns are detailed hereunder.

The Front would also like to announce that while it welcomes the fact that the Government seems to be open to the suggestion of amending the bill, it will refuse to compromise over issues of principle.

The press conference was addressed by the Book Council Chairman Mark Camilleri, who falls under the Ministry of Culture and Justice.  

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