Tista’ taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti
The Shift on Wednesday won another eight cases filed by the government against the newsroom’s managing editor to deny freedom of information requests.
Today’s eight appeal court victories bring the cases Mr Justice Lawrence Mintoff has ruled in The Shift’s favour to 10.
The government has mounted 40 challenges against the newsroom, draining its resources in litigation on cases in which the Information and Data Protection Commissioner Ian Deguara and the Chair of the Appeals Tribunal Anna Mallia have already ruled in The Shift’s favour.
The legal saga has been ongoing for over two years. It has seen the government go to every length to withhold information on its public relations expenditure to buy positive media coverage from the entities owned by Saviour Balzan.
In today’s rulings, Judge Mintoff ordered another eight government entities to cough up information on payments made to MediaToday and Saviour Balzan’s associated companies since 2013.
These were: WasteServ Malta, the National Statistics Office, the Housing Authority, the Gozo Ministry, the Ministry for Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development, the Tourism and Consumer Protection Ministry, the Social Accommodation Ministry and the Armed Forces of Malta.
Today’s decisions follow similar rulings against the Malta Film Commission and Circular Economy Malta.
Not only will the entities have to provide the requested information, but they have also been slapped with all the legal expenses covering both the Information and Data Protection Tribunal as well as those incurred by the appeal cases in court.
All these expenses will be incurred by taxpayers, thanks to the government’s decision to avoid transparency in its dealings with Balzan at all costs.
It is extremely rare that the government objects – twice – to decisions taken by its own appointed bodies.
International media freedom organisations have said the cases constitute SLAPP – vexatious lawsuits intended to cripple a newsroom financially.
They have called on the government to drop the cases, as has MEP David Casa, who led a resolution in the European Parliament that backed the call for the cases to be dropped.
“The writing is on the wall. The government is losing one case after another, yet it still wastes taxpayer money on court fees, lawyer fees and penalties. The government must be transparent, whether it involves Saviour Balzan or any other crony,” said The Shift’s Managing Editor, Caroline Muscat.
Crucially, the rulings now provide case law that limits the government’s abuse of the FOI Act.
“Balzan has typically resorted to attacks against those asking the questions, attempting to throw mud, hoping that some of it will stick. The Shift has chosen a difficult path to finance its independence, never taking public money from the government or political parties. And it is the only newsroom to publish a statement of its income and expenditure to its readers,” Muscat added.
“This is about press freedom. Balzan has said ‘he has no choice but to ask for the same’ from other media houses. We welcome the exercise,” Muscat concluded.
That’s very good news and I am very pleased to have read it. I hope that the remaining 10 cases are also solved in favour of The Shift.
Congratulations to this success and more to the point as well as above all, good to see the standfastness of The Shift against all the odds from the PL and chums.
Malta needs people like those who are working with The Shift News to show that even when it is getting hard, in the end, one prevails with righteousness and the truth will always find its way. The same goes to all those readers and supporters who stood with The Shift unwavering during all the past years.
This is the kind of solidarity that can win and set up a good example to follow.
EU-Malta. Though information is infinite, it is securely stored and heavily guarded. If you want to taste a tiny bit of it, you would have to declare war against the rulers. Win or lose, it is always a dig against you – money, time and resources. The rulers use your money to hire proxy fighters. But you have no choice. If you do not fight, you would starve and die without any dignity. Freedom of information is worth fighting for. It is the best prescription for a healthy society.
The Mafia have a lot to hide. They know that one day all will have to be revealed but they try to kick the can further down the road to win some time for people to forget, be gaslighted, and suffer from the boiled frog syndrome.
A well deserved PROSIT.
Nispera li kif qed jghidu bosta, ix-Shift issa jieħu ħsieb jiftaħ kawżi ta’ danni u ksur tad-drittijiet ħalli dawn l-40 daqqa ta’ ħarta jinraddu lura taħt iċ-ċinturin.
excellent news – for you and all those who really love Malta
for you and all those who really love Malta…….For the better.
We are living in a Dictatorship, very sad.
I was getting all happy, until I realized that I, as a taxpayer am footing the expenses for the court cases against the government’s, if not criminal, certainly unethical actions, lawyers’ honoraria, damages etc etc!
Not that I am in any way begrudging you, mind, but I can assure you that each and every cup that I own would surely runneth over if you could seize Abela’s yacht to recuperate any dues, plus tips.
So yes congratulations and all that, but do keep an eye on that yacht next time, won’t you?