Minister’s aide calls PEN International executive a ‘biased shithole’

Sandro Mangion, the private secretary to the minister of foreign affairs Carmelo Abela, launched a foul-mouthed attack at a UN High Level event marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that led to PEN International filing a report.

Following Abela’s intervention which related to freedom of expression, PEN International’s Sarah Clarke told the minister that if Malta wanted to be taken seriously it should conduct a public inquiry on the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

However, this did not go down well with Abela and his aides and it was at this point that Mangion told Clarke that she is a “biased shithole”. Subsequently, PEN International asked the UN to investigate this abuse and to sanction the government of Malta.

In a formal complaint sent to the UN, Clarke said Abela “also repeatedly said that I was biased, asking me who I had met during my international mission to Malta.”

In October, PEN International was part of a delegation representing press freedom organisations which visited Malta. During their visit they met a number of people including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, justice minister Owen Bonnici and Attorney General Peter Grech.

In her formal complaint, Clarke described the incident as “an unacceptable reprisal against civil society engaging in human rights advocacy at the United Nations.”

“We know that our colleagues, human rights defenders and journalists in Malta are subjected to routine harassment and abuse for advocating for justice for the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The attack on an international human rights defender serves to illustrate the extremity of the attacks on these individuals,” Clarke added.

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