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UN Human Rights Council discusses violence against women and the rule of law in Malta

Human Rights Council, Geneva
Human Rights Council, Geneva. Photo: Jean-Marc Ferre

The UN Human Right Council must ensure a full and impartial investigation into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the crimes upon which she was reporting, as well as ensure that Malta fulfils its obligations to respect, protect and fulfil its commitments to combat violence against women human rights defenders and journalists.

The appeal made by Andrew Caruana Galizia, the son of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, at the UN Human Rights Council 38th Special Session in Geneva followed the government’s appealing the decision by the Constitutional Court last week for deputy police commissioner Silvio Valletta to be removed from the investigation into her death.

“It is increasingly clear that the independence, impartiality and effectiveness of the investigation into my mother’s assassination are now in grave danger. Malta’s constitutional court last week ordered that the police officer leading the investigation be removed from the investigation on account of his close ties to subjects of my mother’s reporting. An important decision, but one that the government has appealed,” Caruana Galizia said.

Caruana Galizia drew attention to the years of harassment his mother faced throughout her 30-year career.

“In the early years, she received threats by phone; later this became a concerted campaign of offline and online harassment. My father and my brothers and I were targeted in an attempt to silence her. Our pet dogs were killed, our home was set alight. Over 60 lawsuits – for both criminal and civil defamation — were filed against her.

“Before her death, my mother was subjected to systematic and escalating threats by government officials and their aides and associates. Unprotected by Malta’s institutions, including the police force and the courts, killing her was not only desirable but it became conceivable”.

His statement to the UN Human Rights Council was supported by PEN International, ARTICLE 19, Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders.

Caruana Galizia said that impunity in her case and the corruption upon which she was reporting had emboldened abuse against other women.

“Since her murder, female human rights defenders and investigative journalists, Tina Urso and Caroline Muscat, who campaign for justice in my mother’s case and against the corruption upon which she was reporting have been targeted in a state-sanctioned, coordinated online misogynistic hate campaign in full view of the authorities that are meant to investigate such abuse.

“As was the case for my mother Daphne Caruana Galizia, there has been no official response to the death threats received by these women human rights defenders – despite clear evidence of the perpetrators – pointing to further major concerns relating to the rule of law in Malta.,” Caruana Galizia said.

Read the full speech by Andrew Caruana Galizia here.

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