11 international NGOS back The Shift in FOI court battle: ‘We call for these cases to be immediately dropped’

No less than 11 leading freedom of expression, press freedom, and journalists’ organisations today expressed their full support for The Shift News as it faces an all-out legal battle against 40 freedom of information (FOI) lawsuits brought by 40 government entities.

“These appeal lawsuits pose a serious threat to the country’s already worrying freedom of information and press freedom climate,” the organisations said in a joint statement released on Monday morning.

“We call for these cases to be immediately dropped and for the government of Malta to fully comply with its FOI obligations going forward.”

The statement was signed by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), ARTICLE 19 Europe, Association of European Journalists, Committee to Protect Journalists, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), IFEX, Index on Censorship, International Press Institute (IPI), OBC Transeuropa (OBCT) and PEN International.

In July 2021, Malta’s Data Protection Commissioner ruled in favour of 40 FOI requests filed by The Shift News as part of an investigation into relations between MediaToday co-owner Saviour Balzan and government entities.

The Shift specifically asked for a list of all contracts and payments between companies owned by Balzan and governmental bodies in light of the public interest need for transparency in relations between independent media and government in a troubling media landscape dominated by political party ownership.

Legal proceedings ‘aimed at weakening Malta’s independent press’

Rallying behind The Shift’s fight for transparency, the organisations explained how, “These vexatious lawsuits seem intended not to win, but to exhaust The Shift’s time and resources, and divert the outlet’s ability to pursue public interest reporting, while also sending a clear signal to others that the Maltese government will fight media attempts to obtain information under the FOI law.

“Our organisations condemn these legal proceedings aimed at weakening Malta’s independent press, and call for them to be immediately dropped. The Maltese government must instead comply with its FOI obligations and take immediate steps to improve freedom of information and press freedom in the country.”

Each of the government entities lodged identical appeals against the Data Protection Commissioner’s decisions. The Appeals Tribunal has so far issued 12 rulings, all in favour of The Shift and the Data Protection Commissioner. But as The Shift has won each case, each entity has resorted to court for a second appeal.

                           
                               
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viv
viv
1 month ago

Well, I’m doubly intrigued now.

KLAUS
KLAUS
1 month ago

BRAVO!

Congratulations for the complete Shift-Team.

.

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