'Freedom of expression cannot stop at views deemed appropriate by those in power'
Intimidating journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia could restrict public debate and diminish media freedom in Malta, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media Dunja Mijatović said today.
“I follow with concern media reports of the pressure on (Ms) Caruana Galizia for her critical work,” Ms Mijatović said. “It is the job of journalists to report on issues of public importance and it is the job of the authorities to ensure that journalists can do so without being intimidated or threatened.”
On February 8, a court upheld a request by the Economy Minister for precautionary warrants for more than €47,000 to be issued against Ms Caruana Galizia for an article published on January 30.
The article compromised his consultant and him during a recent business trip to Germany.
“Initiating libel lawsuits for the work of journalists can very quickly chill free public discourse in any society,” Ms Mijatović said, recalling that public figures must endure a higher threshold of criticism and scrutiny due to their public work.
“In addition, the very unusual move to freeze significant financial assets of Ms Caruana Galizia already depicts her as guilty,” Ms Mijatović said. “Freedom of expression cannot stop at views deemed appropriate by those in power.”
The representative also noted with concern media reports that on February 4 the Economy Minister sued another journalist, Mario Frendo from the media outlet In-Nazzjon, in connection with the same issue.
“I call on the authorities to protect critical journalism and free speech,” she said. “I trust that they will remedy this situation by ensuring that Ms Caruana Galizia and all journalists can freely carry out their important work.”
This article was published on Times of Malta's website on February 16, 2017.
A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. Examples of civil rights are freedom of speech, press, and assembly; the right to vote; freedom from involuntary servitude; and the right to equality in public places. Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of their membership in a particular group or class. Various jurisdictions have enacted statutes to prevent discrimination based on a person's race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin, and in some instances sexual orientation.
Source: Cornell University Law School