Nine international freedom of expression, press freedom, and professional journalists’ organisations have condemned the lack of justice for the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia a full year after three arrests were made in connection with the case.
On 4 December 2017, 10 people were arrested in connection with her assassination in Malta two months earlier. Three of the men were charged with murder, but a full year later they have still not yet been brought to trial, and the investigation has failed to yield any further tangible results, the organisations said in a statement.
Reporters Without Borders, the International Press Institute, the European Federation of Journalists, Pen International, Pen America, the Committee to Protect Journalists, IFEX, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom and Index on Censorship stressed the need for full justice, saying they supported the family’s call for a public inquiry “without delay”.
“Every person involved in the planning and carrying out of this heinous attack must be identified and prosecuted to the full extent of the law”.
The world’s leading press freedom organisations highlighted a number of concerns in their statement, including the government’s failure to address any of the “serious concerns” identified by the joint freedom of expression mission to the country undertaken by six of the organisations from 15 to 17 October.
“On the contrary, the free expression climate in Malta has continued to deteriorate since our mission,” the organisations said.
The statement called on the authorities to “cease all forms of attack against Caruana Galizia posthumously and against those who continue to fight for justice for her murder, as well as independent media such as The Shift News that continue to pursue public interest investigative reporting”.
The organisations noted Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield’s complaint to Parliamentary Speaker Anglu Farrugia that resulted in a ruling for The Shift News to change the content of its report on disinformation on 17 Black. The Shift News declined to change the content, outlining the reasons to the Speaker.
In their list of concerns related to freedom of expression in the country, the organisation noted “the Maltese authorities’ continuous actions not only to destroy on a daily basis the protest memorial honouring Caruana Galizia, but also to construct increasingly elaborate barriers around the protest memorial to prevent the public from exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful protest”.
They also drew attention to “the dozens of ongoing civil defamation lawsuits that continue against Caruana Galizia posthumously – including cases filed by the Prime Minister, his chief of staff, and the Tourism Minister – as well as a case brought by the Prime Minister that continues against Caruana Galizia’s son, Matthew”.
They slammed the Maltese government’s failure to report accurately to the United Nations “the climate of freedom of expression in the country” during its report to the UN Human Rights Council for the Universal Periodic Review of Malta on 14 November.
“The State report neglected to include Caruana Galizia’s assassination, or other areas of widespread violations that have taken place in Malta, despite the fact that the country experienced the world’s sharpest decline in Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 World Press Freedom Index, falling 18 places to 65th out of 180 countries.”
The nine press freedom organisations urged the Maltese government to “take concrete steps as a matter of urgency” the improve freedom of expression in the country.