The Malta Independent 15 October 2021, Friday

Government to present anti-SLAPP bill in the coming days – Robert Abela

Thursday, 16 September 2021, 15:53 Last update: about 29 days ago

The government will be presenting an anti-SLAPP Bill “in the coming days,” Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Thursday.

He was addressing a press conference together with EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, at the Upper Barrakka Gardens.

Abela said that, since taking office in January 2020, “my administration has been in a constant and continuous process to strengthen democracy and the institutions that protect the rule of law.”

“In less than 20 months, we enacted wide-ranging legislation, and this during a pandemic. These include constitutional changes, and their implementation is now visible and tangible. We have done this not just on ourselves but with the support and recognition of European agencies and institutions.”

This reform is ongoing, Abela said. “An interesting development which we will launch in the coming days is an anti-SLAPP Bill and a number of other legislative instruments aimed at protecting journalists and media freedom.”

Two weeks ago, Abela said the government wants to be at the forefront of introducing anti-SLAPP legislation.

SLAPPs are law suits filed against journalists in other countries, making litigation extremely expensive, with the aim of crippling media houses or forcing journalists into submission.

The Opposition, through MP Jason Azzopardi, has filed several anti-SLAPP motions in Parliament, but these have been shot down by the government.

Anti-SLAPP legislation was among several recommendations made by the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry board. After the publication of the report, the Prime Minister pledged to work on protecting journalists, and has had meetings with the Institute of Maltese Journalists (IGM).

Asked about the subject of media freedom, President von der Leyen said this was one of the topics she discussed with PM Abela, who informed her of his intentions on the anti-SLAPP reform.

Yesterday the college of the Commission agreed on a recommendation concerning the safety of journalists. Journalists, with their work on transparency and information, are crucial for the functioning of a democracy, because our freedoms are only secured if people give those freedoms and justice a voice. That is one if the noble tasks of journalism.”

She said that, towards the end of next month, “we will come forward with the Media Freedom Act to make sure that the independence of the media is also secured.”

“We are determined to make a change for the better,” she continued.

Von der Leyen also said she will be visiting Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder site this afternoon to pay her respects and speak with the family.

  • don't miss