23 March 2018
This post was originally published on the ARTICLE 19 website.
Eight international freedom of expression organisations have signed an open letter urging diplomats in Malta to make their presence felt concerning the investigation of the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder. “Your engagement in this case is setting a standard and precedent for what is permissible in the European Union”.
We, the undersigning international organisations are closely monitoring the investigation of the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and the related court proceedings in Malta.
Daphne Caruana Galizia was a journalist, a blogger, a mother of three. For years, she reported on corruption in her home country, despite being threatened continuously. She was still reporting, even when the Maltese police and other authorities failed to protect her adequately. Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated on 16 October 2017 by a car bomb. At the time, she was investigating complex allegations of corruption in an EU Member State.
The killing of a journalist on European soil, likely in retaliation for investigative reporting is unacceptable. Journalism should not be a dangerous profession right in the heart of the European Union. This murder signals the urgent need to strengthen the protection of journalists in the EU Member States and to document and promote accountability for violations of press freedom.
Currently, there are at least three legal proceedings taking place in Malta in an attempt to investigate Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, namely the case filed before the Constitutional Court to remove the deputy police commissioner from the investigation because of conflict of interest, the Court of Magistrates’ inquiry, and the Malta police investigation. The Malta police have identified three suspects. The pre-trial procedure to collect present evidence against them is currently taking place.
We urge you, as a diplomat of your country, to monitor the court proceedings and collect evidence on whether they are being carried out in line with the best international standards.
The next four compilation of evidence hearings will take place on 26 March, and on 12, 20, and 26 April 2018. The next hearing at the Constitutional Court is on 12 April 2018.
Besides showing solidarity, we believe it is crucial to make clear that a case like this cannot be followed by impunity. We are continuing to watch the developments in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s case closely. Malta is a member state of the European Union. Daphne Caruana Galizia and her family are entitled to full justice. The Maltese authorities have the responsibility to provide it. In addition, EU diplomats have the special responsibility to send a strong signal in support of media freedom and respect for human rights and democratic principles.
So far, the European institutions and member-states do not sufficiently monitor the court hearings in Malta. There have been concerns expressed by the victim’s family, journalists, and other civil society actors with regard to the independence and professionalism of the judicial and the prosecutorial system in Malta. International lawyers at Doughty Street Chambers have advised Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family that the investigation into her assassination violates procedural requirements of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Please find the lawyers’ advice here.
We would be happy to provide you with further information and contacts on the ground. Your engagement in this case is setting a standard and precedent for what is permissible in the European Union.