Opposition launches motion for media reform parliamentary committee

On the sixth anniversary of the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the opposition Nationalist Party will call for creating a public committee to hold public consultations on all proposed legislation relating to the protection of journalists and freedom of expression in Malta.

The motion will be presented in parliament on Monday, ahead of the introduction of the long-promised and long-awaited legislation.

In a press statement on Monday, the opposition called for creating a committee led by the house speaker and composed of three members appointed by the opposition and three by the government.

Following the impending publication of the government’s whitepaper, the committee would have three months to conduct public consultations with all stakeholders.

Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Robert Abela promised in parliament to publish a government white paper and open a public consultation process following the conclusions of a government-appointed media committee report.

Recommendations made by the media committee, created following the conclusions of the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry, were made in response to ready-made proposed government legislation.

While completely ignoring the inquiry’s recommendations relating to rule of law improvements, the recommendations also differ from the inquiry’s journalism-related recommendations.

The opposition called on the government to accept its motion for the parliamentary consultation committee. The motion will be presented on the sixth anniversary of Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

Opposition leader Bernard Grech claimed the government’s acceptance of the opposition’s motion would symbolise good faith toward journalists and freedom of expression.

Grech announced that opposition MPs Karol Aquilina, Claudette Buttigieg and Graham Bencini would be their nominees for the committee, inviting the government to present its nominees in parliament.

The publication of a public white paper was only acceded to by Abela following wide calls by journalists, editors, activistsinternational press freedom organisations and, more recently, the Institute of Maltese Journalists. They said it would be necessary for the government to indicate “clearly how the government intends to make sure the media and journalists will be protected and how the public will benefit from better rights to information.”

                           

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