Reporters Without Borders urges government to publish FOI study

'The big issue of lack of access to information in Malta has taken a grotesque turn'


Reporters Without Borders has urged the government to publish the report on the Freedom of Information Act it commissioned two years ago as suggested by the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body, GRECO.

The international press freedom NGO was responding to The Shift’s recent report detailing how the newsroom was forced to file a Freedom of Information request after the Minister of Justice refused to answer questions about why the report had not been made public and why its recommendations had not yet been implemented.

In early 2021, the Ministry of Justice awarded a contract to a law firm (Aequitas Legal) to conduct a study and draft legislation to review the FOI Act – considered a pillar of transparency in a functioning democracy.

Yet despite the study costing taxpayers €18,000 being submitted to the ministry and the draft Bill ready to be presented to parliament for discussion and approval, the report was shelved.

Furthermore, instead of being more transparent about a law to ensure accountability and good governance, the Maltese government has refused to comply and shot down The Shift’s request – twice.

“The big issue of lack of access to information in Malta has taken a grotesque turn. Even a report on the Freedom of Information Act is being kept secret!” RSF then urged the government to respond positively to The Shift’s request and publish the report.

This latest refusal is part of the government’s protracted but coordinated approach to deter independent newsrooms and journalists from scrutinising the government by draining their time and resources.

The government has lodged 40 appeals against decisions by its own appointed bodies – the Information and Data Protection Commissioner and the Appeals Tribunal – that The Shift’s Freedom of Information requests are in the public interest and should be granted.

Eleven international organisations are supporting The Shift’s campaign to reform the FOI law to ensure the public’s right to know. The need for reform has also been brought to the government’s attention by the OSCE.


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I. Gatt
I. Gatt
1 month ago

Autocracy is the nemesis of journalistic freedom….!

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