FOI in Malta?

Malta is one of only three European Union member states still without a freedom of information act. Journalists in Malta are now calling for this to change:

"A law that guarantees individuals and journalists the right to access public information could be uncomfortable for politicians. Up to this very day it is incomprehensible how the parents of a child who died at St Luke’s Hospital a couple of years ago are denied access to an internal health department inquiry report even if it could shed some light on their son’s death.

It is in cases like this that a freedom of information act takes on an important dimension.It is a necessary step in the evolvement of our democracy because it will empower individuals with knowledge that is otherwise kept secret by the powers that be.

The same can be said of the need to have a whistleblower act that protects public officials who uncover corruption or wrong doing by their superiors from retribution or discrimination.

But changing laws and enacting new ones is only one step in the long road to have a mature democracy. A change in mentality is required.

The press has an important role to play and not just a cosmetic one measured by the number of newspapers in circulation or the number of radios and TV stations on air.

Irrespective of whether politicians, public figures and the commercial community are more appreciative of the role of the press in a modern democracy, journalists have to persevere in their role as watchdogs, biting at the hand of those who would rather lock up information and keep it hidden from the public eye."

Unlocking information (Business Today, 5 May 2006)