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Government urged to implement CoE recommendation on protection of journalists

Recommendation signed in 2016 but not yet implemented

Those present for the meeting on media pluralism at the University yesterday. Photo: Philip Agius

Those present for the meeting on media pluralism at the University yesterday. Photo: Philip Agius

European Federation of Journalists general secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez on Friday reiterated calls for the Maltese government to implement the Council of Europe recommendation on the protection of journalists.

“Malta had signed the recommendation in 2016 but it has not been implemented yet,” he said.

The government was expected to carry out an independent review of its legislation in order to protect freedom of expression more, he added, noting that the authorities were also committed to setting up an independent body to deal with the protection of journalists.

“This was a commitment of the Maltese government,” Mr Gutiérrez noted.

“They signed this in 2016, and we are still waiting on its implementation.”

Mr Gutiérrez was speaking at an event organised by the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom of the European University Institute in cooperation with the Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences at the University of Malta.

On Thursday, Mr Gutierrez told those present at the meeting, the government signed a new Council of Europe recommendation on media pluralism, transparency of media ownership and media literacy.

The new recommendation said that the law should prevent the State or any powerful, economic or religious group from exerting pressure on the media.

It also called on public advertisement and State subsidies to be transparent and non-discriminatory.

The newly-signed recommendation says media outlets owned by political parties should be subject to reinforced self-regulation and that the State should promote media literacy for people of all ages and walks of life.

“I hope we do not have to wait another two years for the implementation of this recommendation,” Mr Gutiérrez said.

“We are just asking the Maltese government to comply with its own commitments.”

The EFJ general secretary also insisted that by promoting media freedom and improving journalists’ working conditions, the group was defending citizens’ rights to access information.

He said that the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia cannot become another case of impunity, since that will only lead to more violence against journalists.

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