“Unsatisfactory” – CoE’s verdict on Malta’s response to its demands on Daphne’s assassination, the rule of law

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Malta’s response to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recommendations on ensuring justice for slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and the strengthening of the rule of law has been deemed “unsatisfactory”.

The Assembly’s Legal Affairs Committee has endorsed a follow-up report by its rapporteur Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt whose mandate has come to an end.

In a statement, the committee said that the implementation of the recommendations on ensuring justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia remained “fundamentally unsatisfactory, with no final results”.

Eighteen months ago, the assembly made several recommendations to Malta on achieving justice for Caruana Galizia, strengthening the rule of law and ending impunity for high-level corruption.

In his final report, the rapporteur slammed Malta’s response on ending impunity for high-level corruption as “entirely unsatisfactory” while the response on strengthening the rule of law in Malta was “unsatisfactory overall, with mixed results”.

Omtzigt also reviewed recent developments in the investigation and the criminal proceedings in connection to the case as well as the public inquiry into her death and the rule of law situation in Malta.

Backing his conclusions in a statement, the committee also called on the Maltese government to “refrain from any attempt to impose an arbitrary time-limit” on the work of the independent public inquiry currently under way.

It also called on the Maltese authorities to take the measures identified in the follow-up report to fully implement Resolution 2293 “as a matter of urgency”.

On Monday, Prime Minister Robert Abela said that he is still expecting the public inquiry to conclude by the deadline he had set – 15 December. He insisted that the inquiry had been given enough time to fulfil its mandate.

In September 2019, the government had announced the launch of a public inquiry into the assassination of Caruana Galizia who was killed by a car bomb outside her home in Bidnija on 16 October 2017.

The announcement came just six days prior to the deadline set by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in a resolution adopted on 26 June 2019, giving the Maltese authorities a three-month window to establish an independent public inquiry.