Partit Demokratiku condemns the fact that the government is not supporting a private membership bill in parliament to stop SLAPP lawsuits against the local press. We consider this a slap in the face of free speech and a free press.
SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) lawsuits are designed to silence and intimidate journalists, often by burdening them with lawsuits in foreign jurisdictions, the legal costs of which our small local media houses cannot afford.
We would like to remind the public that SLAPP lawsuits have been initiated against several media houses in Malta. The companies and individuals instigating the move are all linked to Pilatus Bank, Henley and Partners and SCL, the holding company of Cambridge Analytica, the company that has been in the news for farming personal data from Facebook.
All are linked together in a web of manipulation and deceit as pointed out in another PR released today. All have close links with the government.
We question Minister Owen Bonnici’s and the government’s stand. Is it purely on legal grounds or are there other reasons?
As we have stated several times before, we at Partit Demokratiku believe that the ability for the independent press in this country to investigate, report and bring to account both public figures and private companies is an absolutely essential part of our democracy. In this atmosphere of lack of transparency regarding anything related to government programmes with private companies and international dealings it is even more essential that the press question, probe, and investigate and put things under scrutiny freely and without fear of persecution.