Nine international freedom of expression, press freedom, and professional journalists’ organisations, including the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), condemn the lack of justice for the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia a full year after three arrests were made in connection with the case. Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb that detonated near her home in Bidnija, Malta on 16 October 2017.
On 4 December 2017, 10 people were arrested in connection with Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, of whom three men were charged with murder, the criminal use of explosives, criminal conspiracy, and involvement in organised crime. However, a full year later, the three men have still not yet been brought to trial, and the investigation has failed to yield any further tangible results.
We again emphasise the need for full justice for Caruana Galizia’s murder; every person involved in the planning and carrying out of this heinous attack must be identified and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
To that end, and in light of the clear deficiencies of the ongoing criminal investigation, we reiterate our support for the Caruana Galizia family’s call for a public inquiry into whether Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination could have been prevented, and to determine whether any changes to law, policies, or practices are required in order to protect the lives of journalists in Malta. We again urge Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to establish without delay an inquiry in line with the Third Opinion published on 30 November by Bhatt Murphy Solicitors and Doughty Street Chambers.
We further express our profound disappointment that the Maltese authorities have not addressed any of the serious concerns identified by the joint freedom of expression mission to the country undertaken by six of our organisations from 15 to 17 October. On the contrary, the free expression climate in Malta has continued to deteriorate since our mission.
We particularly note the Maltese authorities’ continuous actions not only to destroy on a daily basis the protest memorial honouring Caruana Galizia, but also to construct increasingly elaborate barriers around the protest memorial to prevent the public from exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful protest.
We continue to follow with concern the dozens of ongoing civil defamation lawsuits that continue against Caruana Galizia posthumously – including cases filed by the Prime Minister, his chief of staff, and the Minister of Tourism – as well as a case brought by the Prime Minister that continues against Caruana Galizia’s son Matthew. We are also closely following the unprecedented attempt by Speaker of Parliament Anglu Farrugia, at the request of ruling party MP Glenn Bedingfield, to censor a report about a parliamentary debate by The Shift News.
Finally, we note the failure by the Maltese government to report accurately on the free expression climate in the country in its report to the UN Human Rights Council for the Universal Periodic Review of Malta on 14 November. The state report neglected to include Caruana Galizia’s assassination, or other areas of widespread violations that have taken place in Malta, despite the fact that the country experienced the world’s sharpest decline in Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 World Press Freedom Index, falling 18 places to 65th out of 180 countries.
In light of these worrying developments, we again urge the Maltese authorities to:
- Redouble efforts to identify and prosecute all those involved in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, including the masterminds behind the attack;
- Immediately establish a public inquiry into whether Caruana Galizia’s assassination could have been prevented and whether lessons can be learned for the future;
- Cease all forms of attack against Caruana Galizia posthumously and against those who continue to fight for justice for her murder, as well as independent media such as The Shift News that continue to pursue public interest investigative reporting;
- Accept and implement the recommendations made during the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of Malta; and
- Take concrete steps as a matter of urgent priority to improve the wider freedom of expression climate in the country.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
International Press Institute (IPI)
Index on Censorship
Picture credit: IFJ.