Article 19, English PEN, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, International Press Institute, PEN International and Reporters without Borders released today a review of press freedom and free speech in Malta.

When Malta was last reviewed for these issues before 2013 there had been no adverse comments. But the report finds that “since 2013, press freedom has deteriorated considerably in Malta” even when taking into account the legal updates that the government presents as improvement to free speech here.

The organisations urge the government to empower Maltese judges to block SLAPPs and to take an explicit stand against companies like Henley & Partners that are using SLAPPs, like Pilatus Bank before them, to attempt to stifle free speech in Malta.

The organisations insist on independent policing and investigations to ensure there is no further impunity on findings of journalists and on harm caused to them. They seek reforms in the role of the Attorney General and address concerns on about the investigations into the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

They also recommend reforms in the media landscape to limit concentrated control of the media (political parties are the obvious culprits here) and to allow public media services to provide a genuine public service.

The full report is here.