Q&A: the abuse of libel laws in Malta Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia: Maltese criminal libel law ‘ripe for abuse by the powerful’Members of an IPI/SEEMO delegation (left-hand side, from L: IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis, SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic, former IPI Executive Board Member George Brock, and IPI German National Committee Chair Christian Zarm) meet with Slovenian Justice Minister Goran Klemenčič (first from right) in Nov. 2014 to discuss changes to Slovenia’s official secrets and defamation legislation. Photo: IPI.
Despite its small size, the Mediterranean island nation of Malta sees a surprisingly high number of libel cases. Notably, criminal defamation remains on the books in Malta – with a potential penalty of a year in prison – and the country’s politicians have traditionally not been shy about filing charges against journalists who scrutinise their actions.
One journalist who knows Malta’s libel laws well is journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who writes a twice-weekly newspaper column and daily blog. Politico magazine last year named Carauana Galizia one of the 28 people most likely to shape Europe in 2017 and beyond, describing her as a “one-woman WikiLeaks, crusading against untransparency and corruption in Malta”.