The actions of the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government in relation to the ‘Daphne Memorial’ in Valletta are utterly shameful and reprehensible, Human Rights NGO Aditus said in a statement.
“These actions represent an unequivocal repression of free and peaceful political and personal expression. These are fundamental human rights boldly enshrined in Malta’s Constitution and part of the human rights regime Malta so proudly subscribes to,” the NGO said.
The government’s, or the Minister’s, opinions of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia should play absolutely no part in its relationship with a group of people who, on a regular basis, choose to gather in Valletta to express political opinions or to mourn Daphne Caruana Galizia.
International and national human rights law protect the rights of all people in Malta to assemble, and to express their opinions. These are core pillars of a functioning democracy, since they ensure the safety of people whose personal, political, religious or other views – and their public expression – jar with those of the majority, and of the government.
Limitations on these rights are only permitted where strictly necessary and for reasons linked to the protection of national security, public safety or the rights of others, the NGO said.
The Ministry’s justification for its actions – to safeguard national monuments – is therefore unacceptable and a clear populist attempt at ignoring basic legal standards, especially since no damage to the Great Siege Monument was ever alleged or demonstrated.
Furthermore, the Ministry may comfortably rely on other less intrusive laws for the protection of our national heritage, without acting in such a repressive and childish manner.
We therefore urge the Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government to immediately refrain from these undemocratic tactics and to simply allow the public and peaceful demonstration of opinions and views that he might not be comfortable with.
“This is not asking for too much, just for the peace of mind that we still live in a safe and functioning democracy”, Aditus Foundation Director and human rights lawyer Neil Falzon said.