I start, as I often do, with a disclaimer of incompetence. I am not a lawyer, let alone a constitutional expert. I speak to lawyers, and I can read but what I write here is nothing more than a journalistic assessment. I look forward to the published opinions of qualified experts, proper constitutional lawyers whom you must rely on to form your views.

Having put that out of the way, this series will review one of the bills published by the government yesterday, the one proposing to make three changes to Malta’s constitution formally, as the bill itself says,

in order to strengthen the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and to privacy and media freedom for the better implementation of the rule of law in a democratic society.

We must take that declared objective at face value, without at least for the purpose of analysis analysing the bill with glasses tinted with the assumption that the government does not seriously desire in any way either the strengthening of free expression or even the implementation of the rule of law.

So, the question that needs answering at the end of the assessment of this bill is will media freedom be strengthened after this law is adopted? I will give reasons why in my view the answer is no. At best the impact is neutral and no material change will happen. At worst there is a veritable threat to basic freedoms even as they exist today on the eve of the adoption of this law.

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