‘Extremely concerned’ and ‘Profoundly troubled’ about the situation in Malta

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has declared itself as not satisfied with the investigation into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and has expressed ‘extreme concern’ that there had been no meaningful result in the investigation beyond arraigning three suspected hitmen 10 months ago. In a mission statement, RSF said that there is widespread doubt about the investigation’s commitment to bringing the masterminds of the attack to justice. Unfortunately, said RSF “…our conversations with officials in Malta did not assuage those doubts”. Indeed, the authoritative body described itself as profoundly troubled that “…our conversations in Malta revealed that numerous relevant individuals have not been interviewed, both in terms of subjects of her reporting as well as colleagues who might be able to shed light on relevant dynamics. We are left to conclude that the Maltese authorities are not seriously considering the possibility that Caruana Galizia was murdered for her scrutiny of political and/or business issues.”

RSF has published a joint statement of findings from an international freedom of expression mission to Malta from 15-17 October 2018. The mission found that the Maltese authorities are not living up to their obligations to guarantee and safeguard freedom of expression and press freedom and issued recommendations to address the concerns outlined in the statement.

The delegation met with senior government officials including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici, and Attorney General Peter Grech, as well as a wide range of journalists and civil society representatives to understand their views about the atmosphere for journalism and about the rule of law in Malta. The delegation also monitored hearings in defamation lawsuits that continue posthumously against Daphne Caruana Galizia.

“Although Prime Minister Muscat told us he is satisfied with the investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, we are not. A full year on, the three suspects arraigned in connection with the case have not yet been brought to trial, and there has been no apparent progress in identifying the masterminds behind the attack. This is a far cry from justice; every single person involved in the planning, facilitating, and carrying out of this heinous assassination must be identified and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said RSF UK Bureau Director Rebecca Vincent.

“We call again for an immediate public inquiry to be launched to establish whether Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination could have been prevented. Until we understand why and how this happened, the Maltese authorities cannot sufficiently act to protect others. Journalists continuing to pursue public interest investigative reporting remain at risk in Malta”, said RSF EU-Balkans desk head Pauline Adès-Mével.

The delegation concluded that as a result of the assassination, Malta’s international image has been severely negatively impacted. The only way to start to repair this reputational damage will be to achieve full justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia and her family.