The EU Representative and Advocacy Manager at The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern that Labour MP Manuel Mallia requested to remove the mandate of Special Rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt who is preparing a report on the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Tom Gibson said in a tweet that Malta’s attempt was “deeply concerning”. It “strengthens the need for full and independent investigations”.
The issue was raised by Omtzigt himself who said that Mallia had requested the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to withdraw his mandate to look into Caruana Galizia’s death. “He did not get support in the committee,” he said in a tweet.
The Dutch MP has been tasked by PACE to also investigate the rule of law in Malta and said that a preliminary overview of the case showed her assassination was “planned and premeditated long in advance”.
Mallia’s request was criticised by many, including Caruana Galizia’s son Paul, and Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Callamard said: “Malta needs to take all actions to identify and prosecute the masterminds behind the killings of journalist Daphne. Not silencing and stopping investigations”.
In his preliminary overview, Omtzigt said the case raised “many issues concerning the rule of law in Malta, the progress made in investigating the murder, and the attitude and behaviour of certain senior public officials”.
He has been authorised by PACE’s Legal Affairs Committee to receive information from anonymous sources and to protect the identity of anyone who provides such information.
He also pointed out there was little to suggest the three arrested suspects had any personal motive to kill the journalist, since they had not been the subject of her investigations: “This implies that ultimate responsibility for her assassination lies with another person or persons”.