Landmark ruling published by Columbia Global Freedom of Expression

10 March 2020

The judgement delivered by the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional Jurisdiction, in the case concerning the daily destruction of the protest memorial in Great Siege Square, Valletta, has been recognised as a landmark ruling of international relevance and an analysis of the case was published today by Columbia Global Freedom of Expression.

The 115-page ruling recognised the right to protest as an integral part of the right to free expression, affirming the principle that the State cannot dictate to a protesting citizen the form, place or duration of their protest. The ruling established that the State had systematically breached the right to free expression by clearing away the protest memorial regularly and that the Justice Minister’s actions were divisive.

The protest memorial began when a group of people left flowers at the foot of the monument in Great Siege Square shortly after Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated. Since then, protestors have gathered at the memorial site on the 16th of every month, and place flowers, candles and messages there daily demanding justice for Daphne and accountability for her murder and her stories.

The protest memorial has been removed almost daily on the instructions of the former Minister for Justice, Owen Bonnici. Since the court ruling, it has not been officially cleared away.

The Constitutional case was filed by Manuel Delia against the then Minister for Justice, Culture, and Local Government, Owen Bonnici.

The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation supported the publication of the Constitutional case by commissioning a professional legal translation. The translated judgement is attached to the published analysis.

The online Global Database of Freedom of Expression Case Law critically reviews exemplary cases to determine the extent to which the Justice Institutions are referencing international norms and standards, and approaching information and expression as global in nature and right.