“You have killed the journalist; we will keep her stories alive”, stated Laurent Richard, Executive Director of Forbidden Stories. He was addressing the hearing of the EP’s Civil Liberties Committee in the European Parliament. Laurent Richard said that the consortium of international journalists which he leads wanted to keep Daphne Caruana Galizia’s stories alive.
In a packed hall, Laurent Richard was speaking in front in a parliamentary hearing on how to ensure media freedom and safety of investigative journalists in the EU as a key element of rule of law. Discussions were focused in particular on the situation in Malta and Slovakia, following the murders of journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia and Ján Kuciak and his fiancée.
Replying to MEP Roberta Metsola, Laurent Richard said that the authorities need to be transparent and shed light on what is being investigated for the benefit of their voters.
Authorities in Malta investigating journalists not criminals – Richard
“Instead of investigating the persons who were the subject of criminal allegations, authorities in Malta were investigating journalists”, Laurent Richard said.
A short video was shown showing recent statistics from the Daphne Project featuring the work of 120 media organisations and partners who worked together to uncover stories just six months after Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.
MEP Sophie In‘T Veld, Chair of the Rule of Law Monitoring Group, opened the session by saying that the main issue is that there are big question marks on the investigations of these murders. She said that these issues are casting a dark shadow on the freedom of the press in the European Union.
In this second part of the hearing, MEPs discussed the situation with reporters, academics and representatives of professional organisations such as Forbidden Stories and the Committee to Protect Journalists.
First to speak in this hearing was Tom Gibson from the Committee to Protect Journalists. He said that prior to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, in Malta there was a coordinated and orchestrated dehumanizing efforts against her. Tom Gibson said that international support for the Daphne Project is essential.
The Police in Malta and Slovakia are not doing their job – Holcová
MEPs made contact with Pavla Holcová, a Czech reporter who was harassed by Slovak police for her journalistic work. In a videoconference during the hearing, Pavla Holcová said that Government authorities are trying to have a bigger influence on the public broadcaster.
Recounting her experience, Pavla Holcová said that as journalists, “we have very limited means on how to defend ourselves”, whilst also we are determined to finish the stories of our colleagues who were silenced but we still need to rely on society
Asked whether she is confident that the perpetrators of Jan Kuciak and Daphne Caruana Galizia will be brought to justice, Holcova said that she does not believe in the authorities of the respective countries by saying that “the police are not doing the proper job”. She concluded her statement to the MEPs by saying that “no new developments emerged from the investigation and no new information was released”.
The MEPs made contact with another journalist from Slovakia, Matúš David, who used to work with RTVS, which is the state-owned nationwide public broadcasting organization in Slovakia.
With reference to the political elite in the country, Matúš David said that their superiors tarnish the reputation of journalists by calling them “young radicals who never achieved anything and just critised people”.
He explained the situation of the public broadcaster where its Director General is chosen by parliament and subsequently it is considered as a political appointee. He said that Slovakian journalists were very shocked when the same person abolished the only investigative programme on the national broadcaster.
Elda Brogi, Scientific Coordinator of the Centre for Media Pluralism, mentioned the recent cases of harassment on journalists. She mentioned the threats on investigative journalist Roberto Saviano by the Italian Interior Minister.
The first part of the hearing was dedicated to cross-border cooperation between law enforcement authorities, with the participation of representatives of Europol, Eurojust and national authorities. This session was held privately behind closed doors.
Follow the proceedings here: