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International press freedom NGOs visit protest site blocked off by government

press freedom NGOs Daphne Caruana Galizia
From left: Tom Gibson (CPJ), Courtney Radsch (CPJ), Sarah Clarke (PEN International), Rebecca Vincent (RSF) and Flutura Kusari (ECPMF) at the Great Siege monument in Valletta, Malta, blocked off by the government to stop citizens commemorating slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Representatives of leading names in international organisations working on press freedom this afternoon placed flowers, candles and messages at the monument in Valletta that once served as a memorial and protest site following the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia – until it was blocked off by the government last month.

PEN International, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) are in Malta to participate in events commemorating the journalist’s assassination last year.

It is a global appeal for justice, that will be joined tomorrow by the International Press Institute, the European Federation of Journalists and the Italian press association that has some 60 journalists joining the call.

The Great Siege monument, opposite the law courts in the capital city of Valletta, was the gathering spot for tributes to the assassinated journalist. On the 16th of every month, vigils were held to mark the day she was killed in a car bomb a few metres away from her home in October 2017 in Bidnija.

The monument was blocked off by the government on Victory Day in September, on the very same day it was set up to commemorate.

press freedom NGOs Daphne Caruana Galizia
Flowers, candles and messages paying tribute to assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia placed at the barricaded Great Siege monument by leading internationl non-governmental organisations defending press freedom.

Justice and Culture Minister Owen Bonnici first said it was necessary for “urgent” restoration works. Then he said activists had no right to take over a public monument for a cause not shared by all – so he must have thought it a good idea to bar all from accessing it.

The site was one of the first stops for representatives of international NGOs arriving in Malta, with a host of international media, that serves to remind the government that the world is watching. A protest planned for today was postponed to Tuesday, added to a host of activities on the day.

A year after her assassination, there is no indicatiion of the mastermind behind the murder. Three known criminals were accused of being involved, in a court case that drags on. The men have not said a word in their defence and there is no known motive.

Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court has recently confirmed a decision on appeal that the involvement in the investigation of Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta, husband of Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana, was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Shift News will be publishing interviews with the international press freedom organisations in the lead up to the anniversary of the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

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