‘Confidentiality of sources is a legal democratic need not a political luxury’ – IĠM

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Institute of Maltese Journalists (IĠM) has urged party leaders to respect the confidentiality of sources saying that this was a “democratic need not a political luxury”.

The IĠM referred to a recent fact-sheet published by the Council of Europe listed a series of landmark judgement on the issue of the protection of sources. The IĠM explained that the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights shows clearly that the right of journalists not to disclose their sources is not a mere privilege to be granted or taken away but is part and parcel of the right to information.

The statement comes in the wake of Partit Nazzjonalista leader Adrian Delia’s decision to ask the police to investigate WhatsApp messages he said were leaked to Times of Malta.

The Sunday Times of Malta revealed messages between the embattled PN leader and Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech, when it was already revealed that the latter owned 17 Black.

“Noting the discourse in the recent early morning press-conference by Dr Adrian Delia, the IĠM stands by the journalists in question and reminds leaders that the need to respect confidentiality of sources is a legal democratic need not a political luxury,” the IĠM said.

The IĠM reiterated that protecting journalistic sources is the cornerstone of the freedom of the press following attempts to put journalistic leaks under criminal investigation.

“Case-law also shows that juridically this aspect of the practicing journalist’s tools is treated with the utmost caution. Without effective protection, sources may be deterred from assisting the press in informing the public on matters of public interest. As a result, the vital “public watchdog” role of the press may be undermined.”