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Maltese government told ‘the world is watching’

Media freedom seminar in London raises ‘urgent’ need for independent public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

Daphne Caruana Galizia + Matthew Caruana Galizia
The British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union Seminar held in London on Tuesday.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have called the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia “emblematic”, referring to it as an international “case study” on the fight against impunity for journalists under attack.

At the British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union Seminar held in London on Tuesday, international media freedom representatives spoke of the “growing momentum” surrounding the call for justice for Caruana Galizia who was assassinated in a car bomb a few metres away from her home in Malta on 16 October 2017.

The debate focussed on the need for an independent public inquiry as requested by the Council of Europe and the Caruana Galizia family.

RSF’s UK Bureau Director, Rebecca Vincent, told The Shift that “two years on, attention around the case is growing and discussions in the international fora are not dying down”.

“The Maltese government should take note of this,” she added.

Entitled ‘Ending Impunity’, the panellists tackled the topic of reducing impunity for journalists who have been killed, harassed, or threatened as a result of their work. Panellists also discussed the need for parliamentarians to “use their powers of scrutiny to ensure countries call out those who abuse the rights of journalists”.

As well as Vincent, participants included Caruana Galizia’s son, Matthew, joined by a number of international stakeholders and experts in the field of media freedom, including John Whittingdale, OBE MP Chair of the International Parliamentary Seminar on Media Freedom, Professor Jackie Harrison, the UNESCO Chair on Media Freedom, Journalism Safety and the Issue of Impunity, and Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers.

Country representatives in the audience included Belgium, Romania, Serbia, Brazil, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Canada and New Zealand.

According to Whittingdale, “a Maltese delegate was expected to attend the seminar but pulled out at the last minute”, without offering a reason.

The panel called for support from the British Parliament and international counterparts in bringing all perpetrators of violence against journalists to account.

Other matters discussed included ways of reducing impunity, and the importance of calling out countries that abuse journalists’ rights.

Also present at the event was Amnesty International Foreign Affairs Advisor Polly Truscott who voiced the organisation’s support for a full and independent inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

“Amnesty supports Matthew Caruana Galizia’s call for international parliamentary support for a full inquiry into the killing of his mother, investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia,” she said in a Tweet.

Gallager, who is representing the Caruana Galizia family in their litigation against the Maltese government, spoke about the case and the legal steps being taken to find out who commissioned the assassination and whether it could have been prevented.

In a tweet prior to the event, Gallager commented on the urgency of attaining justice and ending impunity for murdered journalists.

A day earlier, the British Foreign Affairs Committee published a report stating that Caruana Galizia’s death “should set a precedent for accountability and not, as it currently does, for impunity”.

The committee called on the Foreign and Commonwealth office to “publicly press for an independent judicial inquiry” into her assassination, instead of their preferred method of “a firm word behind closed doors”.

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Petra Caruana Dingli at The Shift News

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