Journalists file judicial protest over treatment following press brief

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Six journalists and the Institute of Maltese Journalists have sent a judicial protest to the Prime Minister after a number of local and foreign journalists were kept against their will in a hall at the Office of the Prime Minister, after attending a press conference organised at 3.00am on Friday. The Commissioner for Standards in Public Life was asked to pronounce itself on the incident.

The press was summoned inside the Office of the Prime Minister for a press conference after a six-hour-long Cabinet meeting which discussed a request for a presidential pardon, by businessman and Dubai-based 17 Black owner Yorgen Fenech who is being investigated in connection to the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat gave a short press statement, during which he informed that the Cabinet had decided against recommending the pardon of the President, he then allowed only some five questions to be made, before leaving the room. Other journalists present remained with their questions unanswered.

Once the press conference was over, the journalists tried leaving the room, however, a number of unidentified persons, who are not security or employees of the Office of the Prime Minister, obstructed the exit doors of the conference hall so that the journalists could not leave the room.

Lovin Malta reported that while journalists were locked inside, protesters by Castille’s side entrance were shouted at to leave the area. As they walked down Merchant Street and began turning onto Melita Street, some of the protesters could be heard shouting as a commotion erupted up the hill. The local online news portal also reported that drivers and other men stood near the cars of the ministers, with no barriers and no police.

In a statement, the IĠM condemned the treatment of journalists and asked for assurances that this will not repeat itself. The Insititute described the behaviour as unlawful, protesting against ‘illegal and undemocratic behaviour’.

The IĠM also extended its full solidarity with the journalists subjected to this abuse and condemned all intimidation against journalists in the discharge of their duties.

The judicial protest was signed by lawyers Therese Comodini Cachia, Eve Borg Costanzi, Jason Azzopardi and Peter Caruana Galizia.