Malta politicians quit over investigation into murder of a journalist
Malta saw a change in government at the start of 2020 -- the result of weeks of mass protests in the country’s capital demanding resignations after numerous revelations linked the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to the heart of the government leadership. Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was forced to resign along with his chief of staff Keith Schembri, who has been linked to the journalist’s death in testimonies by those charged with her assassination. Yorgen Fenech, a director of Electrogas, arrested as the mastermind behind Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder to a shady energy deal she had exposed. The public inquiry into the journalist’s death and wider circumstances -- which the Maltese government finally launched two years after her death and only following pressure from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, among others -- is revealing a picture of political interference - intended to disrupt investigations and shift blame away from those at the helm of government.
In January 2020, a court in Malta ruled that government orders to clear tributes left by citizens at the protest memorial for Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta breached the activists’ fundamental right to freedom of expression. The constant clearing of the memorial, over almost two years on orders of the Justice Minister, was made with the “thought and specific intention” to create division while hindering protest and burying calls for justice. The weakness of the rule of law in Malta and the challenges it places on journalists have been documented in reports by major European bodies, including the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. Maltese journalists from six independent media houses told a delegation of MEPs from the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee that they feared for their safety and operated in a culture of intimidation and threats. Media threats during the past year continued, with several documented instances of denial of access to information or press events, toxic rhetoric by government officials, failure to recognise non-State issued press cards, as well as unlawful detention of press members (including international press) following a press conference in late 2019. A report by RSF in collaboration with The Shift News documented press freedom challenges in Malta, including government officials directly targeting and attempting to discrediting journalists covering government corruption. Media ownership remains dominated by the two main political parties in the country, leading to propaganda and disinformation.
77 in 2019
29.74 in 2019