First reading of bill removing criminal libel from Maltese law on 10 October
The first reading of a bill decriminalising criminal libel will take place when Parliament resumes on 10 October, the government said yesterday.
It was reacting to a statement by the Institute of Journalists calling upon the government to remove criminal libel from Maltese law.
In a statement, the government said that with the new laws relating to artistic expression having been enacted earlier in this legislature, the next step was to deal with freedom of journalistic expression.
The bill to decriminalise libel, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers, will be tabled in Parliament for its first reading on 10 October.
The law will also provide for the establishment of new mechanisms of alternative dispute resolution for civil libel cases.
The Institute of Journalists yesterday morning called for better moderation between the parties in libel cases against journalists, saying that this could lessen the time court cases take to be decided and reduce costs.
The call comes in the wake of a white paper launched by the government to improve mediation services in matters related to court cases.
In reaction, the Nationalist Party said one year after Simon Busuttil announced that a PN government would remove criminal libel from Maltese law, the government had decided to follow up on the proposal.
It was on 25 October last year that Dr Busuttil announced the party's decision, and later included the proposal in a document focusing on good governance, the party said in a statement.
“The removal of criminal libel is a tool necessary in the fight against corruption, giving journalists a better opportunity to carry out their investigations without fear,” the PN statement, signed by spokesman Clyde Puli, said.