The world’s leading experts on freedom of expression have publicly expressed their criticism of the Foreign Minister’s aide who called PEN International’s policy advisor Sarah Clarke a “biased shithole” during a UN meeting.
The behaviour of Sandro Mangion, the private secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela, at a UN event marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, led to PEN International filing a report.
The International Press Institute, Article 19, Reporters Without Borders said Mangion’s behaviour was “unacceptable”. The organisations were part of a mission to Malta by nine international NGOs, including PEN International, in October that concluded the Maltese government “was not living up to its obligation to guarantee freedom of expression”.
Malta-based human rights organisation Aditus also reacted to Mangion’s behaviour, saying “good governance demands a higher standard”.
Mangion admitted he called a PEN International executive a “biased shithole”. He later apologised for his choice of words, insisting he was not referring to Clarke herself.
Mangion said he was referring to the “unscrupulous network” that was feeding her unproven allegations, referring to Maltese citizens.
PEN International had already addressed the Maltese government’s behaviour towards citizens and journalists in Malta:
Following Abela’s intervention at the UN meeting which related to freedom of expression, 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.