OSCE media freedom representative welcomes several provisions of draft media law in Malta, encourages further discussions

VIENNA, 1 March 2017 – Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, today presented a legal analysis on the draft Media and Defamation Act commissioned by her Office.

The law review was conducted following a request by Malta’s Minister of Justice.

“I welcome several provisions of the draft law, which, if adopted, would offer increased protection for journalistic work,” Mijatović said. “These provisions include the de-criminalization of certain offenses related to the activities of journalists and media outlets, the introduction of limits for civil liability in libel cases and the lowering of responsibility of website editors.”

The Representative said that the dialogue with the authorities in Malta will continue in the coming weeks, as the legal analysis also pointed to certain elements in the draft law that need further improvement.

“Among other elements highlighted in the report, our analysis suggests to clarify some definitions in order to improve legal certainty,” Mijatović said. “Furthermore, provisions granting special protection to public figures should be reconsidered, as well as the obligation for website editors to register before the Media Registrar. Source protection should be granted not only to journalists but to those as well who engage in new forms of journalistic activities.”

Once adopted, the Bill will replace the existing Press Act.

“Following my ongoing constructive dialogue with the authorities, including with Minister of Justice Owen Bonnici, I am confident that the authorities will take into account the recommendations of the legal review in the upcoming discussions on this important draft law,” Mijatović said, offering her Office’s further assistance in the legal reform.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at http://www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on http://www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.

For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit: http://www.osce.org/fom/302346

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