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“A free and unhindered press is the only way we can have a functioning democracy…but there is still work to be done” – IĠM on World Press Freedom Day 2020

Today is World Press Freedom Day and the Institute of Maltese Journalists (IĠM) is joining international press associations and civil society groups in reminding the public of how essential the free press is to the maintaining the freedoms we all take for granted.

Last year, IĠM stated that “a free and unhindered press is the only way we can have a functioning democracy,” – a principle that we abide it as it is the only way we can make informed decisions about the society we would like to live in. However, the is still work to be done.

During the current pandemic, many applauded the frontliners, amongst which journalists, from their balconies. A noble gesture. However, Maltese journalists are being harassed on a daily basis. While skimming through comments posted on social media as a reaction to the daily medical bulletin by the health authorities, or beneath news articles or opinion pieces related to the latest migration saga, one may easily notice vile threats and bullying! This is not and will never be tolerable. We can never accept any type of blatant hatred towards people who work tirelessly to provide the public with factually correct information, having to compete with a wave of misinformation that litters most social media platforms. We call on the authorities, including politicians, to understand and most importantly pronounce themselves against any type of anti-media rhethoric. Citizens can only form informed opinions if they have clear answers to pertinent questions, and information based on factual truth.

We refer to Friday’s remarks by Prime Minister Robert Abela during a press conference, where he stated that he would “appreciate” if journalists would only ask on the subject of the press conference and not delve into issues related to the migration crisis that Malta is currently facing. Prime Minister, this is not on. While you might have uttered all information that could be communicated at the time on such a subject, journalists’ questions can never be restricted to a particular subject that the authority deems fit. This, on the contrary, simply fuels more hatred towards what constitutes the fourth pillar in a democracy.

IĠM notes the Opposition leader’s initiative to start having televised weekly interviews with questions being fielded by journalists from the independent media. This is a step in the right direction towards more transparancy. IĠM not only invites the Prime Minister to follow suit, but proposes that a weekly Press Conference is organised for the sole purpose to let journalists representing all media houses to field questions. This can contribute much better towards press freedom in Malta, rather than being cusioned while transmitting messages as done by the two political leaders during the past months.

COVID-19 has brought a lot of restrictions, not only on the general public, but also on journalistic practice. Thankfully, technological advancements made it possible to virturally report and also ask questions. Yet, journalists are eager to get back to the traditional formats of press conferences, having the chance to ask follow up questions and interview the relevant persons.

IĠM regrets that Malta kept stooping lower in the World Press Freedom Index issued by Reporters Without Borders. Malta is now 31 places lower than it was in 2016. We reiterate that “no society can be truly, free and democratic, if it is not well-informed, and in this respect, this latest drop is worrying as much as it is disappointing.” IĠM agrees that weaknesses in the rule of law ultimately hinders journalism and that much more needs to be done to allow journalists access to important information. The Council of Europe’s platform for media freedom and safety of journalists’ annual report issued this week, labelling Malta as a “country of exceptional concern,” is even more worrying.

As we have seen from the public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, the failure of authorities  to act on reports of corruption – in addition to allowing bad actors to act with impunity – leaves journalists alone and at risk.

On this day, IĠM remembers Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed over a two years and a half ago, by someone who wanted to deprive the public of information. While during the past months we have witnessed significant developments, we are still waiting for justice to be served.

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Malta tinżel erba’ postijiet fl-Indiċi Dinji tal-Libertà tal-Istampa

“Ebda soċjetà ma tista’ tkun verament libera u demokratika jekk ma tkunx infumata tajjeb u f’dan ir-rigward din il-waqa’ tiddiżappunta u hi ta’ nkwiet” – IĠM

22 ta’ April 2020

L-Istitut tal-Ġurnalisti Maltin jinnota b’dispjaċir li Malta, għal darb’oħra waqgħet lura fl-Indiċi Dinji tal-Libertà tal-Istampa kumpilat mill-Ġurnalisti Bla Fruntieri. Issa pajiżna jinsab 31 post aktar l-isfel milli kienet fl-2016. L-ebda soċjetà ma tista’ tkun verament libera u demokratika jekk ma tkunx infumata tajjeb u f’dan ir-rigward din il-waqa’ tiddiżappunta u hi ta’ nkwiet.

L-IĠM jemmen li fl-aħħar mill-aħħar, Saltna tad-Dritt dgħajfa tfixkel il-ġurnaliżmu u li hemm bżonn isir ferm aktar biex il-ġurnalisti jkollhom aċċess għal informazzjoni importanti.

Kif rajna mill-inkjesta dwar il-qrtil tal-ġurnalista Daphne Caruana Galizia, in-nuqqas tal-awtoritajiet li jieħdu azzjoni fuq rapporti ta’ korruzzjoni u li tħalli lil min jagħmel ħażin jaġixxi b’impunità, iħalli lill-ġurnalisti weħidhom u f’riskju. Li tirredikola u tipprova tiskredita lill-ġurnalisti, iwassal għal sitwazzjoni aktar perikoluża.

Filwaqt li l-media lokali qed tiffaċċja numru ta’ sfidi, inkluż dawk finanzjarji u dak tal-influwenza politika jew tan-negozjanti, l-IĠM ma jaqbilx li l-maġġoranza tal-media houses lokali għandhom interessi politiċi. Kulħadd jaf li l-partiti politiċi f’Malta għandhom il-media tagħhom u dan, filwaqt li jpoġġi sfidi fih innifsu, ma jnaqqas xejn mill-ħidma li jagħmlu l-ġurnalisti u l-media indipendenti.

F’dawn l-aħħar snin, partikolarment l-assisinju tal-ġurnalista Daphne Caruana Galizia, ra l-ġurnaliżmu f’Malta u lill-pajjiż kollu, jgħaddu mill-aktar żminijiet mudlama. Madankollu dan ġieb ħafna mill-aħjar xogħol ġurnalistiku importanti.

Meta l-Indiċi tal-Liberta’ tal-Istampa jitkellem dwar Malta, isemmi l-protesti li saru f’Diċembru li għadda li raw in-nies jinżlu fit-toroq u wasslu għar-riżenja qabel iż-żmien tal-Prim Ministru. Kienet il-media indipendenti li wasslet din l-informazzjoni. L-appoġġ li l-media indipendenti kollha tat lill-moviment ta’ protesta, kien wieħed bla precedent u wera li minkejja l-isfidi, il-prinċipji ta’ stampa ħielsa u indipendenti għandhom ħajjin f’dan il-pajjiż.

L-Istitut tal-Ġurnalisti Maltin jittama li jaħdem mal-Gvern u mal-partiti politiċi biex ikunu ndirizzati numru ta’ problem, li jissemmew f’dan ir-rapport, fosthom il-problema ta’ kliem ta’ mibegħda ndirizzat lejn il-ġurnalisti. 

Filwaqt li hu minnu li l-media soċjali qed issir inqas tolleranti u aktar aggressiva, in-natura tal-professjoni ġurnalistika, tesponi lill-ġurnalisti aktar minn persuni ordinarji.

Hemm bżonn isir sforz mis-setturi kollha tas-soċjetà biex ikun ikkundannat dan id-diskors imma l-partiti politiċi għandhom responsabbiltà akbar, speċjalment meta’ ċertu diskors jiġi mill-partiti nfushom. Il-politiċi Maltin għandhom jikkundannaw din l-imġieba u jekk jonqsu li jagħmlu dan ifisser li jkunu qed jinkoraġġuha.

L-Indiċi Dinji tal-Liberta’ tal-Istampa jinnota li “s-snin li ġejjin se jkunu deċisivi għall-futur tal-ġurnaliżmu, bil-pandemija tal-COVIC-19, tikxef il-ħafna kriżijiet li jheddu d-dritt ta’ rappurtaġġ ħieles, indipendenti ibbażat fuq informazzjoni ta’ min jorbot fuqha.”

Hemm ħames oqsma li rridu niffaċċjaw fl-10 snin li ġejjin: ġeopolitiċi, teknoloġiċi, demokratiċi, ta’ fiduċja u ekomiċi.

L-Istitut tal-Ġurnalisti Maltin filwaqt li jinnota li l-Gvern irreaġixxa mill-ewwel għas-sejħa tiegħu, biex tittieħed azzjoni mmedjata biex ikun imħares is-settur ġurnalistiku waqt il-pandemija tal-Covid-19, isostni li hemm bżonn aktar ċarezza dwar l-impenn tal-Gvern li jgħin lill-kmamar tal-aħbarijiet lokali.

L-IĠM isostni li ma jistax ikun hemm demokrazija taħdem mingħajr stampa ħielsa u bla tfixkil. Hemm bżonn impenn qawwi minn kulħadd, inkluż l-awtoritajiet, biex in-niżla li qbadna fl-Indiċi Mondjali tal-Liberta’ tal-Istampa, tieqaf u pajjiżna jerġa’ jibda tiela.

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IĠM condems treatment of journalists and asks for assurances that this will not repeat itself

29th November 2019

The Insitute of Maltese Journalists condemns the situation that materialised at the Office of the Prime Minister in the early hours of the morning of Friday, 29 November where a number of local and foreign journalists were kept against their will in a hall at the Office of the Prime Minister, after attending a press conference the Office organised at 3.00 a.m.

The press was summoned to the Office of the Prim Minister for a press conference after a six-hour long Cabinet meeting which discussed a request for a Presidential Pardon by a businessman who is being investigated in connection with the murder, two years ago, of fellow journalista Daphne Caruana Galizia.

After a chort declaration by Prim Minister Joseph Muscat who informed the meda that Cabinet had decided against recomending the Pardon to the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister allowed only a couple of questions and left the room in spite of the fact that a number of the journalists present had other questions to put to him.

At this point, a number of unidentified persons, who are not secutiry people or employees of the Office of the Prime Minister, obstructed the exit doors of the conference hall so that the journalists could not leave the room to return to their offices in these early hours of the day. This unlawful behaviour at the Office of the Prime Minister lasted a considerable time – amidst protest by the local and foreing press present – untill the Prime Minister and Ministers had distanced themselves from the building so that the journalists could not reach them to ask questions.

The Institute of Maltese Journalists strongly protest with the Office of the Prime Minister about this illegal and undemocratic behaviour and asked for assurance that such abuse will not repeat itself.

The Institute extended its full solidarity with the journalists subjected to this abuse and condemned all intimidation against journalists in the discharge of thier duties and asked that journalists be allowed to carry out their duties without hindrance and intimidation.

In the meantime the Institute joined a number of individual journalists who were subjected to this abuse and sent a Judicial Protest to the Prime Minister and asked the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life to pronounce itself on these facts. IĠM’s efforts are endorsed by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ).

L-IĠM U L-FONDAZZJONI VALLETTA 2018 INIEDU ŻEWĠ AWARDS GĦALL-MEDIA LOKALI

v18-press-conference-igmL-Istitut tal-Ġurnalisti Maltin, b’kollaborazzjoni mal-Fondazzjoni Valletta 2018, nieda żewġ awards li l-iskop ewlieni tagħhom huwa li jippremjaw ix-xogħol ġurnalistiku marbut mal-ħidma fejjieda li qed twettaq il-Fondazzjoni Valletta 2018.

It-tnedija ta’ dawn iż-żewġ awards saret f’konferenza tal-aħbarijiet li kienet indirizzata mis-Sur Karl Wright, Chairman tal-Istitut tal-Ġurnalisti Maltin u mis-Sur Jason Micallef, Chairman tal-Fondazzjoni Valletta 2018.

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