World Press Freedom Day: New Call for Protection of Journalists

Over 250 writers, publishers and PEN members have joined a PEN International open letter to the European Commission calling for justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia, for the protection of journalists and whistle-blowers in Malta and raising concerns about the behaviour of the management of Valletta 2018, European Capital of Culture in relation to her case.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, a prominent investigative journalist and blogger, was assassinated on 16 October 2017 near her house in Bidnija, Malta, in a targeted car bomb attack. Caruana Galizia spent much of her work in recent years exposing government corruption – most recently reporting on the Panama Papers, which exposed the offshore activities of powerful officials and companies around the world. Her blog, Running Commentarywhich included investigative reports on Maltese politicians, was one of the most widely read websites in Malta.

PEN is also concerned about on-going reprisals against investigative journalists and human rights defenders working to secure justice in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s case and for the corruption she exposed.

For example, senior officials within the office of the Maltese Prime Minister, recently implied that Caruana Galizia’s son Matthew Caruana Galizia, himself a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, colluded with his mother's killers. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is also pursuing a libel case against him. The Shift News, an independent media outlet launched after Caruana Galizia’s assassination which has pursued a number of her stories, is currently facing the threat of a financially crippling SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) from the Jersey-based firm Henley & Partners, who had taken legal proceedings against Daphne Caruana Galizia prior to her death.

In addition, Martina Urso, a civil society activist from the anti-corruption group Il Kennesia, which campaigns for justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia, has also been subject to a torrent of misogynistic abuse – including from members of the Maltese administration and the Artistic Director of Valletta 18, Mario Philip Azzopardi, following her participation in a civil society protest in London on 20 April. Urso was subjected to hundreds of online threats, and her ID card and home address were leaked from a reportedly fake Facebook account and shared online.

On World Press Freedom Day, we reiterate our concerns regarding the investigation by the Maltese authorities into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, which PEN believe does not meet the standards of independence, impartiality and effectiveness required under international human rights law. PEN International also urges EU member states to their utmost to protect journalists and human rights defenders in Malta and to urge the Maltese authorities to do everything in their power to bring all individuals involved in the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia to justice.

TAKE ACTION:

Write to your Foreign Ministry, including this information, and calling for:

  • The Maltese authorities to ensure a full, independent, impartial and effective investigation into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the crimes she exposed;
  • Urge the Maltese authorities to drop the libel cases being pursued against her by members of the government after her death;
  • Urge Malta’s Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, to drop his personal libel trial against Caruana Galizia’s son Matthew, himself a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist through which he is compelling Matthew to return to Malta to stand trial, despite independent security experts advising Matthew to remain outside Malta due to substantial threats to his life there;
  • Support independent monitoring of the legal proceedings in Malta concerning the assassination and the 34 libel trials being pursued against Daphne Caruana Galizia’s estate.

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