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‘Daphne’s legacy in Malta has yet to be secured’ – Pieter Omtzigt

Pieter Omtzigt
Special Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Pieter Omtzigt.

Special Rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt expressed his “deepest admiration and respect” for the family of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia as events commemorate two years since her death in a car bomb on 16 October 2017.

He spoke of her family’s “unrelenting courage and dignity” and praised the continued impact of her work in Malta and beyond.

“Two years after her brutal assassination, they are still fighting for justice for their wife, mother, sister, daughter. Their unrelenting courage and dignity have my deepest admiration and respect,” the Special Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s (PACE) said in a statement.

He praised her investigative work, saying her legacy had yet to be secured in Malta. “Her international reputation as a fearless investigative journalist is now stronger than ever. Her legacy in Malta, however, has yet to be secured. It will be measured in the truth and justice that she pursued throughout her life.”

“Her legacy will be measured in truth and justice”

Omtzigt said securing that legacy meant convicting and punishing her killers and those who ordered her death, ending impunity for corruption and the climate of fear for journalists, and guaranteeing respect for the rule of law among the institutions and offices of State. He renewed his commitment,  as well as that of the Assembly, to secure this legacy.

Omtzigt is the author of a report entitled ‘Daphne Caruana Galizia’s Assassination and the Rule of Law in Malta and Beyond: Ensuring that the Whole Truth Emerges’ adopted by PACE in May that lists the scandals hounding the Maltese government that Caruana Galizia revealed. The resolution set a three-month deadline for the launch of an independent and impartial public inquiry.

Two weeks ago, he tabled a declaration that was endorsed by the Assembly on his concerns on the terms of reference and the members appointed by the Prime Minister to the Board of Inquiry.

“In my view, the inquiry as currently constituted clearly does not meet the Assembly’s expectations,” Omtzigt had said.

His concerns were echoed by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir at a press conference today where he stressed the need for an independent and impartial public inquiry. He said it was “disgraceful” that government officials continued to pursue defamation lawsuits against a journalist assassinated two years ago.

“To defend press freedom and the safety of journalists it is paramount that impunity ends,” Désir said.

“There can be no mercy for those who killed Daphne,” he stressed in an interview with The Shift.

Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire spoke of the need for the government to stop removing the tributes left by citizens at the protest memorial for Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta.

“Doesn’t the government have better things to do?” Deloire asked, adding that it was “shocking” that there was still impunity two years after the journalist’s death.

Deloire said the Maltese government needed to implement an ambitious programme for press freedom in the country. A set of recommendations were put forward to the government today in a report launched by Reporters Without Borders and The Shift News, supported by the Justice for Journalists Foundation.

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