MEP David Casa has urged the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to raise the issue at the Assembly and to mandate an investigation into the Maltese government’s refusal to launch an independent public inquiry into the death of Jean Paul Sofia.
“Failing an independent, dedicated institution to ensure human rights compliance in Malta, it falls on the Parliamentary Assembly to probe member states’ governments for their compliance with the Convention,” Casa said this morning.
He urged PACE to mandate the European Commission for Democracy through Law, the Venice Commission, to investigate the persistent refusal of the Maltese government to abide by its international obligation to the detriment of its citizens.
“The European Convention on Human Rights guarantees enjoyment, above all, of the right to life. When a person’s life is taken or lost, the state has positive obligations to conduct an effective investigation into the death of one of its citizens,” Casa said.
According to Casa, the government’s refusal to launch an independent public inquiry for Jean Paul Sofia was not an isolated incident.
Along such lines, Casa referred to the prolonged international campaign to secure an independent public inquiry for Daphne Caruana Galizia.
“Such an effort should not be required every time,” Casa said. Adding that “there are compelling reasons for an independent, public inquiry into the death of Jean Paul Sofia.
“His mother deserves closure.”
“She deserves to know precisely why her son is no longer with us, what led to his demise, whether regulations were breached that were meant to keep him safe, and whether individuals are responsible and answerable for her son’s loss.”
Casa added, “The families of lost loved ones in Malta must be protected by the Convention.”
Jean Paul Sofia’s parents have condemned Prime Minister Robert Abela’s opposition to a public inquiry into their son’s death, saying that full justice means an inquiry into whether “state authorities or representatives failed in their obligation to safeguard his life” in a statement to the press.
Abela has shot consistently down requests for a public inquiry into the December 2022 death, stating that “a public inquiry hinders and does not help achieve justice”.
Sofia’s parents believe that the current, less in-depth magistrate’s inquiry “is not capable of identifying State failure, administrative, regulatory and legislative gaps, and therefore cannot make recommendations for eliminating the risk to life and injury at construction sites”.
Sofia died in a building collapse while working in what was to be a timber factory constructed illegally on government property by Serbian contractors and Maltese developers with a criminal past and connections to the Lands Authority. Sofia was 20 years old.
They also said that Sofia’s death “was as much the result of inaction by state entities, and administrative, regulatory and legislative failure, as it was the result of actions of persons involved in the site’s development”.
Pointing out the prime minister’s responsibility to “initiate an objective inquiry into whether Jean Paul’s death was preventable had there been timely action by authorities, adequate regulation and legislation, and adequate and efficient processes and procedures in place” and that such an inquiry “can help save the lives of others”.
Several NGOs, public figures, and the opposition have joined the parents’ call for such a public inquiry. The opposition earlier this week filed a parliamentary motion for the public inquiry to be held. Law students’ organization GħSL and the opposition also joined Sofia’s parents in criticising Abela’s comments rushing the magisterial inquiry.
The Opposition has also filed a parliamentary motion demanding an inquiry be held.
In the meantime, portraits of Jean Paul Sofia are being placed in front of the Office of the Prime Minister.
A photo his mother had placed there was removed on Wednesday night but she took to social media Thursday morning to say the portrait and candles she placed there had been removed overnight.
Later on Thursday, friends of Jean Paul Sofia placed another picture in front of Castille with an accompanying statement reading: “It will stay there until a public inquiry into Jean Paul’s death is opened.”
Prime Minister Robert Abela has openly criticised the judiciary for the length of time the magisterial inquiry into Sofia’s death is taking. He wrote to the Chief Justice on Thursday asking him to ensure that the magisterial inquiry into the construction death is concluded as soon as possible.
here there is no respect for human rights, never-ending court debates, no job security, employees who are blackmailed for visa permits so as not to make complaints and to be paid a very low salary, the law does not exist and what little what remainsit is not respected through corruption….