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Al Jazeera to tackle Malta censorship debate

Realtà editor Mark Camilleri (right) presenting proposals on censorship to the Prime Minister last summer. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Realtà editor Mark Camilleri (right) presenting proposals on censorship to the Prime Minister last summer. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

A film crew working for Al Jazeera was in Malta recently to produce a 30-minute documentary about censorship, with particular focus on the case of Mark Camilleri, the student editor facing charges of obscene libel.

The documentary, which will be aired next April, is part of the Witness series, which focuses on controversial issues in different countries through individual stories.

Director Charlie Young said his team was inspired to delve into the issue since Mr Camilleri’s story received some coverage in the UK press. “But when I read into the back story a bit more, I realised his case was symptomatic of a wider issue in Malta.”

The documentary will cover Mr Camilleri’s campaign to change the censorship laws in Malta, through the founding of the Front Against Censorship, and the story of his ongoing court proceedings.

The crew spent three weeks in Malta following the latest developments and interviewing people central to the issue.

“From my point of view I was surprised how contentious this issue was. People on both sides seem incredibly passionate,” Mr Young said.

He added Mr Camilleri’s campaign, while difficult, would inevitably yield some positive results.

“I think the main thing that comes across from Mark’s story is that, in the short term, at least, he has his work cut out. He seems determined to push this issue up the political agenda but the traditional view is incredibly entrenched.

However, in the longer term it seems some degree of change is inevitable.”

Mr Camilleri, 21, a history student, is facing charges of publishing and distributing a student newspaper which included a short explicit story delving into issues of sexual violence through a first-hand narrative some people felt degraded women.

His newspaper, Realtà, was removed from the University after complaints were made to the University authorities and a police report was filed.

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