The Minister of Justice's claims about reforms are false

23 September 2023

Minister of Justice Jonathan Attard claimed that Government is acting transparently in following up the public inquiry into the circumstances of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, that there is no secrecy on Government’s part, and that the Government is open to consultation. The justice minister’s claims are false.

  • Malta Government has repeatedly refused to publish the latest report drafted by the ‘Committee of Experts on Media’ (“Rapport tal-Kumitat tal-Esperti dwar is-Settur tal-Midja. Rapport Finali, 4 ta’ Lulju, 2023”).

  • Malta Government is ignoring the public inquiry’s recommendations concerning the rule of law, unexplained wealth, and organised crime. Government excluded these from the terms of reference given to the Committee. MPs on the Government side of parliament voted out proposed legislation that addressed all the recommendations of the public inquiry.

  • Malta Government has not consulted journalists on draft legislation. Minister Attard presented draft legislation to reporters at a press conference on 28 September 2022, just one week ahead of rushing the draft legislation through a First Reading in parliament. There was no consultation with journalists beforehand and there has been none since.

  • Minister Attard’s claim of “wide consultation” is grossly exaggerated. Government transferred its responsibility to hold structured public consultation on legal reforms to the Committee, which organised a single event (not several), allowing little over an hour for public participation in parallel sessions. The justice minister did not attend the event, nor did he appoint a delegate to attend in his stead.

  • The bills Malta Government presented in parliament last October have not been withdrawn even though they fail to meet international standards (see, e.g., OSCE RFoM 1, OSCE RFoM 2, Article 19) and “fail to create the systemic reforms required to foster an enabling environment for free and independent journalism” (MFRR).

  • Malta Government has not published updated legal proposals. Any new draft legislation is hidden from public view, including from the very people – journalists – those “legal changes” are meant to protect from harm.

  • Almost a year after tabling substandard legislation in parliament, Malta’s Government has still not publicly committed to publishing a White Paper to open up the process of legal reforms to public consultation.

  • Malta Government has not yet redressed the conditions that enabled Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination on 16 October 2017. Journalists in Malta still work in an environment in which a journalist was assassinated.