Daphne Foundation: OPM spokesperson’s comments on media reform ‘at best vague and misleading’

Daphne Foundation slams Office of the Prime Minister spokesperson’s comments to Reporters Without Borders on government’s implementation of media reform

File photo
File photo

An OPM spokesperson’s comments to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on the protection and safety of journalists were at best “vague and misleading” the Daphne Foundation has said.

The foundation was reacting to comments made by Office of the Prime Minister spokesperson Edward Montebello, when asked what the government is doing to implement the European Commission’s recommendations on the protection, safety and empowerment of journalists. The recommendations were issued in September 2021.

Montebello told RSF that Malta “applied and is applying the measures enlisted by the European Commission" and that it is “determined to adopt legal changes.”

“Malta Government has not effectively applied any of "the measures enlisted by the European Commission" almost six years after Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and more than two years after the publication of the report of the public inquiry into her murder,” the foundation said.

The foundation also said that government is determined to ignore half the recommendations of the public inquiry. “When appointing the 'Committee of Experts on Media', the Government’s terms of reference given to the committee excluded all of the public inquiry’s recommendations concerning the rule of law, unexplained wealth, and organised crime. When the Opposition proposed legislation in parliament to address all of the recommendations of the public inquiry, the MPs on the Government side voted against it.”

The Daphne Foundation also said government was hiding from public view the "legal changes" it is "determined to adopt", including from the very people those "legal changes" are meant to protect from harm.

“The bills Malta Government presented in parliament last October need to be replaced as they fail to meet international and “fail to create the systemic reforms required to foster an enabling environment for free and independent journalism” (MFRR). However, almost a full year later, Malta’s Government has still not publicly committed to publishing a White Paper on legal reforms to open up the process to public consultation,” it said.

“Malta Government has not yet redressed the conditions that enabled Daphne Caruana Galizia's assassination on 16 October 2017,” the foundation said. “Journalists in Malta are still obliged to work in an environment which made the murder of a journalist possible.”