The Maltese government is accused of being in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, and legal action has now been instigated against them in the form of a judicial letter.
The announcement was made at a side event at the Council of Europe, entitled ‘Impunity in Malta: the Assassination of Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’.
Those present discussed the lack of action by the Maltese government into investigating the circumstances into Caruana Galizia’s murder almost 18 months ago.
Speakers at the event included her son, Andrew Caruana Galizia, Tom Gibson from the Committee to Protect Journalists, Thomas Friang from Reporters Without Borders and leading British lawyer Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, a specialist in human rights and media law.
Representatives from IFEX, the International Press Institute, PEN International, the European Federation of Journalists, Article 19, and PACE were also present.
Gallagher spoke over concerns of a lack of independence into the criminal investigation and whether the State could, and should have known about the risks against her life and taken additional steps.
She added that Daphne had been very open about the threats, harassment, and had experienced “many steps taken against her to silence her”.
The blocking of a public inquiry by the government went against existing case law, Article 2 and potentially Article 10 of the ECHR, and as a result, litigation would commence. The Articles mentioned regard the right to life, right to a investigation into suspicious death, a right to protection from the State, and the right to freedom of expression.
The libel suits pending against her were also raised, including one from the Prime Minister, as well as the clearing of the Great Siege Memorial by the state.
Her statement was echoed by a tweet from the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom who were also in attendance.
–@caoilfhionnanna @DoughtyStreet + @TomFriang @RSF_inter pointed out to the importance of a public inquiry again. As a @coe member state, #Malta is failing to comply with Art 2 ECHR. A public inquiry would lead to a news cycle to highlight the injustice, @acaruanagalizia added.
— ECPMF (@ECPMF) April 8, 2019
The judicial letter was filed today in the First Hall of the Civil Court in the names of Caruana Galizia’s husband and sons. It is addressed to the Prime Minister ,the Attorney General, and the Justice Minister, and makes a formal request for an inquiry. If needed, Gallagher stated that the matter would then be taken to the European Court of Human Rights.
The lawyer added that if the government wanted to prove that all allegations against them regarding Daphne’s murder were rumours, all they have to do is open the inquiry.
Gibson commented that there were no assurances that the government had taken any steps to ensure that another journalist would not be murdered.
Fraing added that Malta’s backsliding was documented, having slipped 18 places in the RSF index. He stated that the need for a public inquiry was clear and that people needed to understand whether Daphne should have been protected.
All parties in attendance agreed that 18 months after her murder, there has been no justice for the attack and organisations presented noted that lack of tangible effort towards identifying the masterminds behind her assassination.