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Rights groups cautiously welcome public inquiry into journalist’s death

Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family expresses hope that the evidence gathered by the inquiry will prevent other journalists losing their lives in Malta and beyond.

Nine international press freedom and human rights groups have “cautiously” welcomed the Maltese government’s announcement that it will update the terms of reference and the composition of the Board of Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

“This is a long overdue step towards ensuring justice and ending impunity in Daphne’s case and, more broadly, the protection of journalists in Malta,” the organisations said.

The statement was signed by Article 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), IFEX, the International Press Institute (IPI), PEN International, PEN America, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Scottish PEN.

The organisations said they had long called for an independent, impartial and effective public inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s assassination, which took place by a car bomb outside her home in Malta on 16 October 2017. They also said they were “dismayed” by the repeated delays and obstructionism of the government in establishing a public inquiry that is fully compliant with Malta’s obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“It is also of deep concern that a bereaved family has had to mount a two-year advocacy campaign and prepare to litigate against their own government to fulfil its legal obligations to ensure justice for Daphne,” the organisations said.

The nine organisations said they would be closely monitoring the progress of the Board of Inquiry. “It must have the full support and cooperation of the Maltese government, and it must proceed without further delay and with full resources to ensure that the whole truth emerges concerning the circumstances of the assassination of Malta’s foremost journalist.”

They stressed that lessons must be learned and implemented by the Maltese government to fulfil obligations to protect all other journalists in Malta continuing to pursue public interest investigative reporting, who remain at risk.

Sarah Clarke, Head of Europe and Central Asia at ARTICLE 19, said: “This should never have taken two years.  The international community will be closely monitoring the Maltese government’s compliance with the public inquiry and expect lessons learned to be  implemented in a timely manner. Without this, journalists in Malta remain at serious risk.”

Caruana Galizia’s family reacted to the government announcement yesterday, saying demands for an independent and impartial public inquiry have finally been heard.

“The Maltese Government must now give the Board of Inquiry its full support and co-operation so that the wider circumstances surrounding our wife and mother’s assassination are investigated without further delay, lessons can be learned and full, restorative justice for the country can follow,” the Caruana Galizia family said in a statement.

They said they hoped that the evidence gathered by the inquiry will prevent other journalists losing their lives in Malta and beyond. “We expect that the inquiry will have sufficient resources to complete its work in good time and that the government will promptly implement any recommendations.”

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