Joint open letter to the members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: Call for a PACE Special Rapporteur on Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and the crimes she exposed
19 January 2018
Dear Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,
Daphne Caruana Galizia was by all accounts Malta’s most widely read and influential journalist. She had an immeasurable impact on Malta’s politics over the course of her thirty-year career and single-handedly uncovered some of the country’s biggest corruption scandals, exposing Maltese institutions for their unwillingness to pursue powerful and well-connected members of the country’s business and political class.
Known by her hundreds of thousands of readers in Malta and elsewhere simply as ‘Daphne’, she was assassinated on 16 October 2017 in broad daylight by a remote-controlled car bomb as she left her home in Malta.
Only months before, Daphne Caruana Galizia had uncovered systemic government corruption implicating senior members of her country’s government, showing how offshore structures exposed in the Panama Papers were used to receive and launder kickbacks on the sale of Maltese passports and process unexplained payments from members of Azerbaijan’s ruling family.
In a January 2018 report of a European Parliament fact-finding mission to Malta, the country’s Commissioner of Police confirmed on record that no police investigations took place into any of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s Panama Papers revelations. The senior government figures implicated in her investigative reporting remain in public office.
In a context of complete impunity for the high-level corruption Daphne Caruana Galizia exposed and the legal, financial and other threats she faced from figures in or close to government before her assassination, her killing has underlined in shocking fashion the extent of corruption and rule of law failings in Malta. The threat to the country’s liberal democracy and press freedom is a real one: Malta has slipped sixteen places in a single year in Freedom House’s latest global ranking.
Daphne Caruana Galizia’s violent death and the impunity for the crimes she revealed have serious consequences in the most fundamental areas of the work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
At the winter session in Strasbourg, Daphne Caruana Galizia’s three sons will be calling for a special rapporteur to be appointed whose mandate will involve monitoring the ongoing murder investigation in Malta, investigating the broader circumstances surrounding Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death, and ensuring there is no impunity for the perpetrators of the crimes Daphne Caruana Galizia exposed.
We ask you to heed their call and to support their efforts in every possible way in the interests of all of us who work to see justice and bring an end to impunity.
- Ricardo Gutiérrez, General Secretary, European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
- Antoine Bernard, Deputy Director General of Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
- Patricia Moreira, Managing Director, Transparency International
- Barbara Trionfi, Executive Director, International Press Institute (IPI)
- Carles Torner, Executive Director, PEN International
- Tom Gibson, EU Representative, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
- Anna Bevan, Assistant Director, International News Safety Institute (INSI)
- Ernest Sagaga, Head of Human Rights and Safety, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
- Joy Hyvarinen, Head of Advocacy, Index on Censorship
- Natalia Yerashevich, Director of the Secretariat, Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
- Katie Morris, Head of Europe and Central Asia, ARTICLE 19
- Antonia Byatt, Interim Director, English PEN
- Dr Lutz Kinkel, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
- William Horsley, VP and Media Freedom Representative, Association of European Journalists (AEJ)
Council of Europe’s Partner Organisations on Media Freedom Raise Alarm after Grim Record in 2017 and Urge Close International Scrutiny over the investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s Murder
19 January 2018
The undersigned organisations, partners of the Council of Europe Platform for the Promotion of Journalism and the Protection of Journalists, are deeply concerned over the lack of progress in the investigation into the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. The authorities have announced the arrests of three suspects in connection with her murder, but there remains a widespread belief that those who ordered this crime have not yet been identified.
Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb explosion on October 16, a few meters away from her home. Her death raised concerns not only about protection of critical journalists but also about the rule of law and corruption in Malta.
More than three months after the journalist's brutal murder there are no public indications to suggest that the authorities have identified the people who commissioned, planned or orchestrated the murder.
We remind the government of Malta and all concerned that Guidelines related to judicial follow-ups to the killing of journalists approved by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in April 2016 state that “investigations must be effective to maintain public confidence in the authorities’ maintenance of the rule of law and to prevent any appearance of collusion in or tolerance of unlawful acts.” The Guidelines also recommend that “investigations should be subject to public oversight, and that the victim’s next of kin must be involved in the procedure to the extent necessary to safeguard their legitimate interests.”
We believe that, given the profile of the crime and the issues of corruption Daphne Caruana Galizia had worked to uncover, the investigation into her assassination demands the continued scrutiny of the international community. We join Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family in calling on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to appoint a special rapporteur to monitor the ongoing murder investigation and make an assessment of the contextual circumstances that led to her murder.
The killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia demonstrated the dangers which journalists around Europe faced last year. The co-signatories of this call to action also express concern regarding several worsening press freedom trends. These conclusions are based on a compilation of cases of serious threats to media freedom and journalists’ safety reported on the Council of Europe Platform for the Promotion of Journalism and the Protection of Journalists.
In 2017, we submitted 130 alerts concerning 29 countries, confirming last years’ trends of the wide geographic spread of threats to media freedom. In 79 alerts (60%) in 2017, the State was the source of the threat. Fewer than 30 percent of the alerts passed on to Member States in 2017 received a State reply. All Platform alerts have been verified by Council of Europe Partner organisations and they all deserve a reply and, we believe, appropriate follow-up action as well.
The alerts consist mainly of attacks on physical safety and integrity of journalists (23%), harassment and intimidation (23%), and detention and imprisonment (21%).
Impunity remains one of the single biggest challenges to the protection of journalists. It includes 15 cases of murders of journalists and numerous cases of threats and other types of intimidation and harassment which were not investigated by State authorities. We call on Member States to adhere to the Council of Europe’s Guidelines on effective investigations to bring perpetrators of such crimes to justice, and wider measures needed to end impunity. We also ask them to continue to support the work of the Platform, in partnership with international press freedom organisations.
Article 19 (A19)
Association of European Journalists (AEJ)
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
Index On Censorship International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
International Press Institute (IPI)
Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF)