Confidentiality of the source of journalistic information should not be tampered with

The Institute of Maltese Journalists (IĠM) regrets to note the declaration made in Court by a Police officer, who stated that the Police intended to institute proceedings in Court to request the Editor of MaltaToday to reveal the source of information in a story published last year, which led to investigations into the oil purchasing scandal.

The IĠM maintains that the confidentiality of the source is a right acquired by Maltese journalists on the Institute’s initiative many years ago and this is an important principle that guarantees freedom of the press.

The Institute has full faith that the Maltese Courts, before which the writ will be filed, will support the right to confidentiality, as guaranteed in the country’s laws.

As a matter of background, this is what the Press Act has to say on the Confidentiality of the Source:

46. No court shall require any person mentioned in article 23 to disclose, nor shall such person be guilty of contempt of court forrefusing to disclose, the source of information contained in a newspaper or broadcast for which he is responsible unless it is established to the satisfaction of the court that such disclosure is necessary in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, or for the prevention of disorder or crime or for the protection of the interests of justice:

Provided that the court shall not order such disclosure unless it is also satisfied that in the particular circumstances of the case the need for investigation by the court outweighs the need of the media to protect its sources, due regard being taken of the importance of the role of the media in a democratic society:

Provided further that nothing in this article shall be interpreted as exempting any person mentioned in article 23 from proving the truth of any facts attributed by him in terms of article 12.

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