Journalist’s organisations condemn MEPA’s attitude during the Fort Cambridge Hearing
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The attitude shown by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority during the Fort Cambridge Development Board Hearing has been termed as no less than ‘unacceptable’ by the Institute of Maltese Journalists and the Journalists’ Committee.
In a joint statement, the two journalistic organizations expressed their solidarity with the journalists present at the board hearing, saying that they carried out their duty admirably in “bringing to public attention a draft press release by the MEPA public relations officer, which had pre-empted Thursday’s decision on the Fort Cambridge project before an official public decision was taken.”
“This incident sows considerable doubt on the transparency and integrity of the MEPA board hearing and its new Chairman,” the statement continued.
The statement also condemned MEPA’s accusations of “malicious actions” and those of disrupting the meeting which were leveled against the journalist who “chanced” upon the suspicious press release and shared it with the rest of her colleagues.
The Institute of Maltese Journalists Chairman, Malcom J. Naudi, said “What can be regarded as a failing on behalf of a public authority must not be construed to be the fault of journalists who were doing their job without fear or favor.”
He went on to say that, “journalists have a vital role to play in public hearings because they represent the wider public who cannot be present in person. What can be regarded as a failing on behalf of a public authority must not be construed to be the fault of journalists who were doing their job without fear or favour. They expect respect and a mature treatment even in such a situation.”
“The journalists present were right to bring to the public’s attention this dangerous exercise in subverting what should have been a transparent and public hearing,” Committee spokesperson Matthew Vella added.