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EP vote condemns Malta’s inaction on corruption, crime and protection of journalists

LIBE vote resolution

The European Parliamentary Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs (LIBE) today overwhelmingly voted in favour of a resolution condemning insufficient action on corruption and crime, as well as failing to ascertain who ordered the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

MEP Sophie In ‘t Veld proposed a motion for a resolution on the situation on the rule of law and the fight against corruption in Malta, which was passed with a majority of 40 votes out of 53, reiterating the stand by MEPs for a full investigation into all criminal acts, and better protection for journalists in Malta.

The motion highlights that rule of law, democracy and human rights and fundamental freedoms are enshrined in the EU Treaties, and that national sovereignty cannot justify the refusal by a Member State to comply with the Treaties to which they have acceded of their own volition. It also urges the government to implement the Venice Commission recommendations that exposed the constitutional failure and resulting democratic deficiency in Malta.

It also notes with concern that the masterminds behind Caruana Galizia’s assassination in Malta have not yet been apprehended and urges the withdrawal of libel law suits against the journalist still ongoing 16 months after her death.

The motion calls on the Maltese government to set up without delay a full and independent public inquiry into the murder of Caruana Galizia, and questions why the Maltese authorities never issued an official legal assistance request to the German Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt) to be given access to the data stored on Caruana Galizia’s laptop.

The motion also notes that that the Egrant inquiry report has not been made publicly available, as well as the fact that no inquiry was launched to uncover the beneficial ownership of Egrant – the third Panama company revealed by the Panama Papers investigation. The other two were owned by Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri, who still remain at the helm of government, protected by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Read: 6 things to keep in mind about the Egrant inquiry report

The motion underlines the need for more transparency regarding Mizzi and Schembri’s financial interests and links in the light of revelations that the beneficial owner of Dubai-based company 17 Black was Electrogas director Yorgen Fenech. Leaked emails had shown it was set up to transfer kickbacks to Mizzi and Schembri’s offshore companies.

The motion goes on to urge the government to terminate its cash-for-passports scheme and to increase transparency by publishing a stand-alone list of anyone who has purchased Maltese and EU citizenship. The government was told to fully disclose and terminate its contract with Henley & Partners, the private global firm designed Malta’s citizenship scheme and which remains a concessionaire.

The Shift News has shown how the firm spent up to €300,000 on lobbying in Brussels last year, in addition to the amounts spent by others such as the Investment Migration Council.

The Maltese government has repeatedly refused to open an independent public inquiry into the murder of Caruana Galizia stating there was “no need”, despite calls from Brussels, civil society, international press organisations and human rights watchdogs, and the Caruana Galizia family on its necessity.

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