Civil society organisation Repubblika expressed it solidarity with The Shift News for its stand following the ruling by Parliament’s Speaker earlier this week.
“The ruling of the Speaker of the House of Representatives directly curtails, without due process, the freedom of expression that should be enjoyed by journalists. The unilateral censorship of free press by an institution is a curtailment of the right to know of all citizens,” the organisation said.
Repubblika raised concerns that the Speaker’s position did not appear to take into account the considerations raised in the case ‘Demicoli vs Malta’ at the European Court of Human Rights.
In the context of the House of Representatives, a ruling of this nature is grossly inadequate in satisfying the requirements of a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Repubblika said.
The organisation noted that The Shift News was neither notified of the submission made by MP Glenn Bedingfield, nor was it given any opportunity to make submissions at any point during the proceedings. That the ruling does not specify the prescribed course of action further points to “serious shortcomings in the Speaker’s verdict”.
The Speaker’s ruling effectively ignored the fact that MP Glenn Bedingfield also made his remarks outside the House.
“The commentary published by The Shift News on Sunday is, as we understand it, fair comment and is protected by the European Court of Human Rights. Such comment is not only necessary but also desirable in a free and open society,” Repubblik said.
The article in question tackled the government’s disinformation following revelations on 17 Black.
“We insist that all institutions of the State act within the limits of the law, particularly the Constitutions and the fundamental rights charter to which Malta is signatory. And we insist that the free press is allowed to function without any further intimidatory measures perpetrated by the State in order to curtail free speech,” the organisation said in a statement.