Six of our organisations took part in an international freedom of expression mission to Malta one year ago, where, at the highest levels of government, we raised our profound concerns about this case and the broader worrying free expression environment in Malta - which has fallen 30 places over the past two years and is now ranked 77th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index.
A full year after our mission, the Maltese authorities have failed to meaningfully address any of the serious concerns we raised, or fully implement any of the recommendations we outlined in our statement of findings as necessary steps towards ensuring justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia and concretely improving the broader freedom of expression situation in Malta.
Following our mission, one member of our delegation was subjected to verbal abuse by the Maltese delegation before the United Nations (UN), in response to her advocacy for justice in the case, an incident which the UN noted in its report on reprisals. Another member of our delegation faced harassment at the Valletta protest memorial site during a subsequent country visit.
Yet these unacceptable acts pale in comparison to the alarming attacks that have continued - and in some cases, escalated - against Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family, citizen journalists and activists who campaign for justice in the case, and professional journalists who continue to pursue public interest investigative reporting in Malta. We also note with deep concern the many vexatious defamation lawsuits that continue posthumously against Daphne Caruana Galizia, including suits brought by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and other senior officials, and the continued destruction of the Valletta protest memorial in her honour, on a daily basis under government orders.
Although we welcomed the Maltese government’s long-overdue announcement on 20 September 2019 that a public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination would finally be established, we emphasise that an inquiry must be fully independent and impartial. We share the concerns of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) with regard to both the terms of reference and the composition of the Board of Inquiry.
While it does not replace the ultimate need for an independent and effective criminal investigation and prosecution, in light of the serious deficiencies of the current investigation, we believe that a public inquiry represents the best hope of achieving justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia and of ensuring the safety of journalists in Malta. We urge the Maltese government to move forward without further delay in establishing a truly independent and impartial public inquiry in line with PACE’s requirements. We further call on the Maltese government to cease ad hominem attacks on PACE Special Rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt and to cooperate with his mandate in accordance with Malta’s obligations as a Council of Europe Member State.
Today, on 16 October 2019, we are gathering in vigils to remember Daphne Caruana Galizia and renew calls for justice in Valletta, London, Brussels, Berlin, and Vienna. We will continue our campaigning and our joint advocacy at international organisations such as PACE until all those involved in every aspect of this heinous attack are brought to justice - including the masterminds.
We urge the Maltese authorities to ensure that this is the very last anniversary that passes without full justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
European Federation for Journalists (EFJ) IFEX
Index on Censorship
International Press Institute (IPI)
PEN America PEN International