Attacks on independent media continue despite condemnations

Widespread condemnation has not stopped government officials from launching fresh attacks on independent journalists and using its party media to single out individuals doing their jobs.

On Saturday, the chair of Valletta Cultural Agency, Jason Micallef, used his time on a radio programme to display photos, taken surreptitiously, of chat messages received by Newsbook journalist Monique Agius on her laptop.

Micallef claimed that she “was given questions” to ask by former Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi and members of NGO Repubblika. The claims were then amplified in the Labour Party’s media outlets, which labelled independent media ‘sabotage groups’.

Politicians, NGOs, and media representatives widely criticised Micallef’s actions.

The Institute of Maltese Journalists (IĠM) condemned the attack, calling for an end to a “very slippery slope” and placing responsibility squarely on the prime minister and his government.

Micallef followed in the footsteps of Prime Minister Robert Abela, who targeted the same journalist a week earlier during a recent press conference, accusing her of her involvement with ‘the establishment’ as she tried to ask questions concerning the results of a magisterial inquiry into Vitals/Steward hospitals scandal.

MEP David Casa reported Prime Minister Robert Abela, the Labour Party and government official Jason Micallef to the Mapping Media Freedom platform, which monitors threats against journalists.

MEP candidate Louise Anne Pulis also posted on social media highlighting the role of investigative journalism, underscoring that “Journalists not only have a right but also a duty to convey what is happening, to analyse the facts and broadcast them”.

NGO Repubblika condemned Micallef’s actions, saying it has been monitoring the political rhetoric of the government and the prime minister since the magisterial inquiry on the hospitals was concluded. Repubblika demanded immediate action to ensure journalists’ privacy is respected, allowing them to do their work without intimidation from the government or any other source.

Last week, human rights organisation Aditus “strongly condemned” the words of Prime Minister Robert Abela in “his blatant attack on the judiciary and journalists”.

In a statement, Aditus said the prime minister’s speech left no room for interpretation. It added that it was a direct and unequivocal undermining of people and positions simply because he was uncomfortable with their activities.

The increased attacks on journalists are part of the government’s overall response to counter the fallout from the magisterial inquiry into the Vitals/Steward hospitals deal.

The renewed hostility towards independent media began mere days after the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) press freedom index ranked Malta penultimate in the European Union.


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6 days ago

State Terrorism is now official.
Daphne’s death was the launching pad.
When Labour Administrations become cornered and exposed , they turn into wild beasts.
During MIntoff’s time they burnt political clubs , beat people in the dock yards , killed persons who knew too much , others during terrorists attacks on Political Clubs, during Mass Meetings ……… but that was counterproductive and the government did not have money to dish out , only bullets.
Now this New Labour is more refined. It has money to dish out and one bomb was enough to silence everybody .
Now it is the turn of the Courts , since the Police and the AG have been neutered.
The church has been silenced , even tough the Bishops do express themselves to those who are still on their wavelength. But these are few and far between.

6 days ago

Micallef is not the brightest star in the establishment out there and would love to be up there with the LP in Parliament shouting the odds as he is prone to do. Be that as it is they know his ability and he will always be the drum beater , all of his public statements can be found on Valletta toilet walls.

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