“Many persons end up daily as victims of racism due to their skin colour – Commissioner Jourova
Speaking during a webinar organised by the European Commission’s representation in Malta and The Malta Independent paper, the EC Vice President on Values and Transparency, Vera Jourova, stated that many citizens are not aware of their fundamental rights.
She remarked that the fundamental rights charter is not only an instrument in the European law but protects the gender equality and the freedom of speech, while mentioning that work is currently underway against the legal cases, known as SLAPP.
Jourova said that despite the charter in Europe, there is a great number of people who end up victims of racism and discrimination on a daily basis, including due to their skin colour or appearance.
Dr Elena Grech, head of the EU’s Malta representation, stated that the freedom of expression is many times taken for granted, especially due to accessibility in the social media where one thinks that he/she may speak freely.
The director of the European Agency for Fundamental Rights, Michael O’Flaherty, praised the achievement of many fundamental rights introduced by the Maltese government, including those connected with LGBTIQ rights. He remarked that incorrect information was given on Covid during the past year with journalists in European countries attacked for doing their work.
The European Parliament’s Vice President, Roberta Metsola, stated that while the EU has to protect the value of life and equality, a gap was created in recent years between the EU and citizens because European values were not respected by certain institutions of different countries. She added that proposals are currently being presented against SLAPP to silence journalists.
Justice and Equality Minister, Edward Zammit Lewis, said that on a national level the Government amended the legislation concerning the freedom of expression in order to protect the work of journalists, while adding that on a European level the EU needs to intervene so that member states respect the laws of other member countries.
Dr Zammit Lewis stated that a bill on the fundamental rights is currently before Parliament, following consultation with NGOs and that a commission for human rights will be established within a few months.