ARTICLE 19 and nine other freedom of expression organisations welcome the inclusion of Malta in the Assistant-Secretary General’s report on reprisals. Last December, in an act of attempted intimidation, the delegation of Malta to the UN Global Compact on Migration verbally abused Sarah Clarke in response to her call for an international public inquiry into the assassination of Malta’s leading investigative journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia. We are concerned that this reprisal forms part of a broader pattern of state backed reprisals against human rights defenders, journalists, and the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia, in retaliation for their call for justice, in particular for an independent public inquiry into her assassination.
Of particular concern are the ongoing defamation lawsuits that continue to be pursued posthumously against Daphne Caruana Galizia including suits backed by the Prime Minister and other senior officials; ad hominem attacks by government officials that Daphne’s son, Matthew, was involved in the assassination plot; and the daily destruction of a protest memorial calling for justice in her case, on the orders of the Minister of Justice.
Since her brutal murder on 16 October 2017, our organisations have been profoundly concerned by State failures in the investigation the assassination and we have therefore backed the call for a public inquiry. The Prime Minister of Malta has been given a deadline of 26 September 2019 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to establish an independent and effective public inquiry into whether Daphne Caruana Galizia’s life could have been saved. We remind the Maltese Government that they now have one week left to establish an independent, impartial public inquiry which is fully compliant with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Without such a public inquiry, there will be impunity for those who ordered the assassination, and, as a result, journalists in Malta who are continuing Daphne Caruana Galizia’s investigations into corruption at the highest levels of government, will remain at risk.
We urge the Council to monitor developments in this case, and in relation to reprisals against those advocating for a public inquiry, and to hold Malta to account should it fail to establish a truly independent and effective public inquiry, in accordance with the terms set out by the Council of Europe.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
Index on Censorship
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
International Press Institute (IPI)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)