A coalition of 10 press freedom NGOs have welcomed the conclusions and recommendations of the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and have called on the Maltese authorities to consider and accept the Board’s detailed recommendations and publish a plan of action for implementation to ensure better protection of journalists.
In their statement, citing the conclusions of the inquiry, the international organisations describe the Board of Inquiry’s report as a milestone in the fight for truth, accountability and justice for Caruana Galizia’s assassination and its conclusions and recommendations are of global significance in battling impunity for crimes against journalists.
The coalition of organisations also praised the courage and tenacity of the members of the Board of Inquiry in the independence, impartiality and professionalism they have demonstrated in producing this report, despite being subjected to political pressure that was intended to hinder its efficacy and independence.
Ever since the public inquiry was established in December 2019, the international NGOs have monitored and participated in the work of the Board of Inquiry, including by providing in-person testimony, observing proceedings and filing a comprehensive submission on the ongoing threats to journalists and press freedom in Malta.
In April this year, a coalition of nine freedom of expression and media freedom organisations made a submission to the public inquiry listing their concerns and recommendations for press freedom reforms.
The NGOs also note the detailed legal and procedural recommendations to strengthen the protection of journalists and the strengthening of journalism and freedom of expression in the country made by the Board, including legal reforms at the Constitutional level towards the recognition of freedom of expression, the creation of an Ombudsman on journalistic ethics, the revision of the Freedom of Information Act, a revision of the Media Defamation Act to address the problem of SLAPPs and other vexatious libel cases, and recommendations to address the allocation of state advertising to the media.
In their final remarks, the NGOs said they plan to further analyse the detailed conclusions and recommendations and will continue to closely monitor their implementation, with a particular eye to the proactive protection of journalists still working in Malta in the hope “that the public inquiry conclusions and recommendations will lead to full justice and accountability for the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and result in practical reforms in laws and practices that will ensure meaningful protections for the safety of journalists and freedom of expression in Malta and beyond”.
The joint statement was signed by ARTICLE 19, Association of European Journalists (AEJ), Commonwealth Journalists Association, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), International Press Institute (IPI), OBC Transeuropa, PEN International and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).