The Maltese state should protect and enable journalists and journalism

30 June 2022

We stand in solidarity with Times of Malta journalist Ivan Martin and have written to the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights and to the European Commission to support calls for accountability.

The judgement of acquittal delivered last Monday, in the case triggered by Ivan Martin’s police report that two lawyers attempted to bribe him, continues to highlight the Maltese state’s failure to protect journalists and to enable public interest journalism, despite this failure being extensively documented in the report of the public inquiry published almost a year ago, on 29 July 2021.

The presiding magistrate dismissed the case without entering into its merits as the legal provision the Attorney General had cited in the note of referral was different to the one on which the charges are based, thereby obliging the court to acquit. In an environment where impunity already endangers journalists and journalism, the failure in this case has further undermined the expectation that journalists can rely on the protection of the legal system.

We now expect the Maltese state to set up an independent inquiry into the matter and to ensure there is full accountability. The public deserves to have faith in the state’s ability and willingness to successfully prosecute corruption and to ensure there are consequences for the failure of state institutions and officials to properly fulfil their duty.