Malta Declaration by Journalists from Mediterranean Rim Countries

Representatives of journalists' trade unions and non-profit groups held their tenth joint meeting on September 28 and 29, 2007 in Malta.

They noted that imbalances between the countries of the North and South continue to exist, resulting in restrictive policies on migration being adopted in certain European countries, with asylum seekers and migrants being presented as dangerous trouble-makers.

Too many European media allow themselves to be used as willing mouthpieces for policies which violate the most elementary humanitarian principles.

The job of journalists is to present the news with sufficient perspective to avoid inciting hatred, and on the contrary to promote a humane image of immigration, including its cultural, economic and political aspects.

Delegates called on governments to show more solidarity with countries faced with migratory problems.

Delegates also noted a deterioration in the quality of news in many countries, a resurgence of repression, a return to censorship, along with death threats against journalists as well as actual murders;

At the same time both the working conditions and the status of journalists are being eroded, with an increase in precarity, the undermining of labour gains and collective bargaining agreements, often using adaptation to new digital technology as an excuse.

For all these reasons, delegates decided to call on their unions and associations to take part in the day of action organised by the European Federation of Journalists for November 5, on the theme of "Stand Up for Journalism."

Although the situation differs from country to country in the Mediterranean region, delegates noted that equality between men and women was not progressing. There is also a continuing trend towards media concentration, with companies falling into the hands of industrial and financial groups for which news is simply another source of profits, and a way of bolstering their ideological dominance.

Participants consider that their actions need to be publicised from country to country, so that they can be mutually reinforcing. Cross-border solidarity needs to be strengthened, in particular to counter multinational companies.

Delegates also noted that the number of journalists who are subjected to legal action and sentencing is continually on the rise.

For those reasons, they decided to call on trade unions and other non-profit groups in the Mediterranean region to set up an alert network, along with support mechanisms to make it easier to exchange information between each country.

They encourage bilateral relations and ask the coordinating secretariat to study a series of practical initiatives to respond to the wishes expressed during the Malta meeting.

The present Malta Declaration is part of the framework constituted by the declarations of Milan (1993 and 1995) Zagreb (1997), Florence (1998), Rabat (1999), Athens (2001), Cyprus (2002), Almeria (2005) and Porec, Croatia (2006), as well as the activities of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). It notably complements the declarations of Almeria and Porec.

Malta, September 29, 2007