The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) together with a group of media freedom NGOs have published an open letter to the representatives of the Maltese Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) members. The letter was published ahead of a meeting of the PACE Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee in Paris which was attended by national representatives of the Council of Europe members. It called on the Maltese government to support the findings of an investigation led by Mr. Pieter Omtzigt, the Special rapporteur appointed by PACE to investigate the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The letter reads,
Dear Ms Cutajar, Mr Mallia, and Mr Stellini,
In CC: Jason Azzopardi, Etienne Grech, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi
We, the undersigned organisations have advocated extensively for justice in the case of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was assassinated by a car bomb in Malta on 16 October 2017, and are closely monitoring the process on the ground.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has appointed a Special Rapporteur on this matter, Pieter Omtzigt, who has compiled a draft report titled “Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and the rule of law, in Malta and beyond: ensuring that the whole truth emerges”. The draft report and accompanying resolution will be considered at the PACE Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee meeting in Paris on 29 May.
We have been following Mr Omtzigt’s work in his capacity as Special Rapporteur and believe that his mandate and his draft report are crucial efforts to achieve justice in this case and ensure the accountability of the Maltese government in adhering to its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). We have full confidence in Mr Omzigt’s work as Special Rapporteur and we regard attempts to discredit him or his work as a serious effort to divert attention from the substance of the report.
The draft report is expected to highlight a number of serious concerns over the investigation into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, including the fact that no one has been arrested for ordering the assassination, and that the magisterial inquiry is still ongoing, with uncertainty as to its progress. The report is expected to call on the government of Malta to establish an independent public inquiry within three months to determine whether the state could have prevented the assassination – a point we have also called for repeatedly.
Broader systemic problems in terms of rule of law and democratic checks and balances were detailed in the recent Venice Commission Opinion and GRECO report on Malta. The cumulative effect is a frankly alarming situation, particularly for a Council of Europe and European Union member state.
We urge you to act in good faith in accordance with Malta’s ECHR obligations and support Mr Omtzigt’s mandate and report. We also ask you to constructively promote implementation of its recommendations without delay, in the interest of achieving justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia and addressing the broader democratic shortcomings identified in Malta.
Thank you for your consideration.
Nora Wehofsits, Advocacy Officer, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
Rebecca Vincent, UK Bureau Director, Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Sarah Clarke, Head of Europe and Central Asia, ARTICLE 19
Ricardo Gutiérrez, General Secretary of the European Federation of Journalist (EFJ)
Annie Game, Executive Director, IFEX
Ravi R. Prasad, Director of Advocacy, International Press Institute (IPI)
Max Heywood, Head of Policy & Advocacy, Transparency International