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International mission says Malta is failing to protect press freedom

People lay flowers and candles at a makeshift memorial during a vigil and protest on the first anniversary of the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, outside the Courts of Justice in Valletta, Malta, 16 October 2018
People lay flowers and candles at a makeshift memorial during a vigil and protest on the first anniversary of the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, outside the Courts of Justice in Valletta, Malta, 16 October 2018

REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 19 October 2018.

Reporters Without Borders (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 a set of recommendations to address the concerns outlined in the statement.

RSF UK Bureau Director Rebecca Vincent and head of RSF's EU-Balkans desk Pauline Adès-Mével travelled to Malta along with representatives of the Committee to Protect Journalists, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, the European Federation of Journalists, the International Press Institute, and PEN International, to raise concerns about a lack of justice a full year after the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, and to assess press freedom conditions in the country.

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.

The mission's full joint statement of findings is available via download.

Malta is ranked 65th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index, after dropping 18 places from the year before.

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
International Press Institute (IPI)
PEN International
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

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