First read­ing of bill re­mov­ing crim­i­nal li­bel from Mal­tese law on 10 Oc­to­ber

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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.

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