The Constitutional Court turned down a case I filed, complaining that a court decision finding me responsible for libel breached my right to free expression.

The case goes back some years. I wrote a post about how Malta should have an anti-mafia law. In that article I was explaining the meaning of omertà and said it means more than silence. It could also be perpetrating the lie that the mafia doesn’t exist.

I cited as an example an article Raphael Vassallo had written some months back where he criticised anyone who suggested that the killers of Daphne Caruana Galizia acted as some part of a conspiracy for which the state was responsible. I said that by assuring people there was no conspiracy one could unwittingly make themselves part of it.

Raphael Vassallo sued me, and the first court found I had not libelled him. He appealed and the second court found that I had and ordered me to pay Raphael Vassallo damages. Which I did.

I went to the Constitutional Court to complain that if the Court of Appeal was right and I’m never allowed to say something like I wrote about Raphael Vassallo without being slapped with a heavy penalty, then there’s an unlawful limit on my (and everybody else’s) right to speak freely.

Judge Audrey Demicoli announced her decision today. She didn’t go into the arguments I made because, she said, I was asking the Constitutional Court to become a second court of appeal. She said I wasn’t happy with the appeal so I went to her to appeal the appeal, which nobody can do. On that basis alone, she threw the case out.

I must mull over this decision. It’s a bit of a blow because basically this decision means that the Court of Appeal is the only institution of the Maltese state that cannot have its actions examined for possible violations of human rights. That, I should think, is absurd and particularly unfair on journalists who have their access to the constitutional court, to have an allegation of a violated right examined, restricted, or outright denied.

If there’s something I can’t bear about this story is the fact that the outcome of a case brought against me (and the subsequent case I brought against the state) makes the work of journalists harder to do and the definition of free speech more restricted than it had been before.

I have some time to think about my next steps. You’ll be the first to know.