International press defense NGOs deny a meeting with the Prime Minister

A group of six leading press freedom NGOs have been denied a requested one-on-one with Prime Minister Robert Abela over the government’s controversial new legislation governing how it treats and protects media.

Representatives of Reporters Without Borders, the European Federation of Journalists, the International Press Institute, the European Center for Press and Media Freedom, Article 19 and the Committee to Protect Journalists are currently in Malta where they are monitoring the trial by jury of the coup men accused of the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The NGOs had requested a meeting with Abela, who did not accede to their request, but still say they are open to a meeting with the Prime Minister to follow up on the discussions held last year in Malta.

Abela told them he would not be available because he would be traveling to Berlin for “important international work”. Abela, however, will certainly be back in Malta by Sunday, where he will address a high-profile Labor political rally in Zebbug on the fifth anniversary of the journalist’s murder.

Sarah Clarke of Article 19 (left) and Flutura Kusari of the European Center for Press and Media Freedom attend the trial of Daphne Caruana Galizia on Friday

In a joint statement, the NGOs said that the current visit to the country followed similar missions organized in previous years, and that the group of NGOs planned to meet the Prime Minister and relevant ministers “with the aim of continuing dialogue with the Maltese authorities. government”.

They will, however, meet with representatives of civil society, journalists and other key stakeholders. Meetings are also requested with the Information and Data Protection Commissioner, Ian Deguara; members of the diplomatic community and representatives of the European Commission; and Maltese journalists, media professionals and civil society organisations.

“Despite widespread outcry, including from the organizations represented in the delegation, in favor of full justice and accountability for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the legal proceedings have so far made very good progress. limited,” they said in the statement.

“Furthermore, the government has been slow to implement the press freedom reforms recommended by the landmark public inquiry, and it has failed to hold meaningful public consultations on the legislative proposals.

“As a result, as in previous years, the continued need for justice and accountability for the assassination of Caruana Galizia will be high on the delegation’s agenda. “In addition, the representatives will also focus on the other systemic failures that continue to negatively affect the press freedom climate in Malta.”

NGOs will also support Caruana Galizia’s family and national civil society as part of Sunday’s commemorations.

Later on Friday, international press freedom NGOs will hold a discussion with all of the Maltese press on controversial new media legislation.

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