Rule of Law NGO Repubblika, has said the intimidation that journalists facing reporting at PN Headquarters on Tuesday, was authorised by the party leadership and that, ‘this behaviour is nothing short of disgraceful.’
Repubblika says it ‘roundly condemns,’ the actions which saw a Times of Malta photographer and a journalist from Newsbook’s own newsroom, verbally and physically intimidated by individuals understood to be acting under the instructions of the party’s leadership.
The incident took place on Tuesday evening during a meeting of the Nationalist Party’s Executive Committee. It is understood that those who threatened the journalists were known to support the leader Adrian Delia.
The NGO stresses that this has been a common occurrence of the last few weeks, in which PN MPs and activists who are critical of the party’s leadership had also been threatened.
‘Repubblika considers these actions to be extremely serious and worrying. No institution that prevents the media from operating freely can truly be called democratic,’ they state.
Showing their solidarity with the Times of Malta and Newsbook journalists at the heart of this situation, they call on the party to ensure this does not happen again.
‘No politician should allow this kind of conduct purely to safeguard their position.’
Right to report and film in public places
Responding to Tuesday’s incident, the Council of the Institute of Maltese Journalists has said that while condemning the actions of PN’s activists, ‘journalists have every right to film and report as they see fit, especially when in public spaces.’
‘Journalists have a responsibility towards their readers and the country in general to be present at such events and to inform the public about what is going on,’ they add.
The body says that it is has communicated with the party leader Adrian Delia, calling for the event to be investigated and that disciplinary actions be carried out. Delia is understood to be cooperating with IGM.
IGM stresses that in future, party officials should be responsible for coordinating media, ‘not supporters or activists.’
‘The country cannot have a functioning democracy without a free and independent press.’
Newsbook’s Editor in Chief, Sylvana Debono has reached out to the Nationalist Party’s Secretary General Clyde Puli, for an explanation of what happened on Tuesday evening.