Repub­b­lika sup­ports The Shift News against Speaker’s rul­ing

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS -

Pres­sure group Repub­b­lika yes­ter­day ex­tended its sol­i­dar­ity to The Shift News in light of the rul­ing de­liv­ered against it by the Speaker of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Anglu Far­ru­gia ear­lier this week.

On Tues­day, the Speaker ruled in favour of MP Glenn Bed­ing­field re­gard­ing his re­quest to cor­rect de­tails in an ar­ti­cle pub­lished by The Shift News. The ar­ti­cle in ques­tion said Bed­ing­field had “in­vented” a nar­ra­tive that suited him with re­gard to the 17 Black is­sue.

The Speaker of the House ruled that News must cor­rect its ar­ti­cle.

How­ever, Repub­b­lika said yes­ter­day that it con­sid­ers the rul­ing “di­rectly cur­tails, with­out due process, the free­dom of ex­pres­sion that should be en­joyed by jour­nal­ists.

“The uni­lat­eral cen­sor­ship of free press by an in­sti­tu­tion is a cur­tail­ment of the right to know of all ci­ti­zens.

“Repub­b­lika is con­cerned about the Speaker’s po­si­tion be­cause it does not ap­pear to take into ac­count case law con­sid­er­a­tions, par­tic­u­larly those raised by Demi­coli v Malta.“

In the con­text of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, a rul­ing of this na­ture is grossly in­ad­e­quate when it comes to sat­is­fy­ing the re­quire­ments of a fair trial un­der Ar­ti­cle 6 of the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights, Repub­b­lika said. The Shift

“The Shift News was nei­ther no­ti­fied of the sub­mis­sion made by MP Glenn Bed­ing­field, nor was it given any op­por­tu­nity to make sub­mis­sions at any point dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings. That the rul­ing does not spec­ify the pre­scribed course of ac­tion fur­ther points to se­ri­ous short­com­ings in the Speaker’s ver­dict.”

The Shift News also re­ferred to the fact that the Speaker’s rul­ing ef­fec­tively ig­nored ev­i­dence which showed that MP Glenn Bed­ing­field had also made his re­marks out­side the House.

“The commentary pub­lished by The Shift News on Sun­day is, as we un­der­stand it, fair com­ment and is pro­tected by the Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights.

“Such com­ment is not only nec­es­sary but also de­sir­able in a free and open so­ci­ety.”

Repub­b­lika said it sup­ports The Shift News’ po­si­tion that the rul­ing can­not have any ef­fect in view of the ar­gu­ments put for­ward in their re­sponse to the Speaker.

“We in­sist that all in­sti­tu­tions of the State act within the lim­its of the law, par­tic­u­larly the Con­sti­tu­tions and the fun­da­men­tal rights char­ter to which Malta is sig­na­tory. And we in­sist that the free press is al­lowed to func­tion with­out any fur­ther mea­sures of in­tim­i­da­tion per­pe­trated by the State in or­der to cur­tail free speech.”

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