Tag Archives: Daphne Caruana Galizia

End impunity for crimes against journalists!

“Democracy cannot live without free, diverse and independent media. Journalists and media actors across the globe hold states, government officials, corporations and society at large accountable for their actions. But far too many among them face threats and attacks simply for carrying out their work, while the perpetrators of these attacks often act with total impunity” says the Declaration by the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini on behalf of the bloc on the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists – 2 November 2018.

“On this day, which has been proclaimed as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, by virtue of the UN General Assembly Resolution 68/163, we pay tribute to all those journalists around the world who lost their lives and suffered attacks in the exercise of their profession. We also pay tribute to all those brave journalists who are taking up the work of their colleagues who can no longer pursue their investigations.

“The assassinations of investigative journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuciak in the EU, demonstrate that no region of the world is immune to this. These despicable crimes need to be thoroughly investigated and prosecute, as it is the case for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. We have asked and expect that Saudi Arabia cooperates on a thorough, credible and transparent investigation and we insist on the need for clarity on the circumstances of his death and full accountability of all those responsible for it.

“There is in many countries a worrying tendency to erode and shrink the space for free journalism, often by putting indiscriminately in question the credibility of media to discredit and weaken their work. Journalists need an environment where they are able to work in safety and security, both online and offline, without fear of harassment, political pressure, censorship or persecution. A robust legal system must protect media houses and journalists all around the world so that they can fulfil their work in full independence. In a time where disinformation is on the rise, the safety of journalists must be guaranteed to allow them to promote accurate reporting for the benefit and in the interests of all our citizens.

“The EU will continue to use all appropriate external policy and financial instruments to enhance the quality of journalism, access to public information and freedom of expression. It will continue funding the European Centre for Press and Media freedom (ECPMF) and providing targeted protection through Human Rights Defenders Support programmes.

“All states within and outside the European Union have a duty to fulfill their obligations to protect freedom of expression and the safety of journalists by providing an enabling legal environment, by taking threats against journalists seriously and by vigorously prosecuting actual attacks. We expect all to reinforce preventive measures, mobilising all actors and creating national safety mechanisms, in line with the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

“Free journalism is the backbone of free societies: undermining it means undermining our own freedom” – the Declaration concludes.

MEPs to report on EU freedom of press

MEPs of the Civil Liberties Committee will monitor and report in the coming months on the situation of rule of law in the EU, with a specific focus on corruption and freedom of the press.

The Committee has set up a Rule of Law monitoring group (ROLMG), chaired by Sophia in ‘t Veld (ALDE, NL), which will build on the two ad hoc EP visits to Malta (December 2017) and Slovakia (March 2018) following the murders of the Maltese blogger and journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, and the Slovakian journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée.

MEPs will also follow up of the conclusions and recommendations adopted by plenary in its resolutions on Malta (15 November 2017) and Slovakia (19 April 2018).

The European Parliament is concerned about the lack of progress in both murder investigations, repeated claims of harassment and intimidation of journalists and persistent allegations of corruption and fraud. The aim of the new monitoring group is to give full support to all efforts to seek justice and make sure the rule of law prevails.

The group’s mandate, until 31 December, foresees the possibility of hearings, meetings, fact finding missions, reporting back to the European Parliament and the adoption of a final resolution.

The group will be chaired by Sophia in ‘t Veld (ALDE, NL). Other members will be Roberta Metsola (EPP, MT), Josef Weidenholzer (S&D, AT),  Judith Sargentini (Greens, NL), Laura Ferrara (EFDD, IT), and Auke Zijlstra (ENF, NL). The representatives of ECR and GUE have not been appointed yet.

Malta under scrutiy

The Members of the European Parliament  are expected to agree on a strong statement raising concerns about money-laundering and tax practices in Malta, it will also raise questions on the independence of its police and judiciary, whose investigation of the assassination of a journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, an outspoken critic of the ruling political circles, is under scrutiny.

The Maltese MEPs from Socialist & Democrats group – Alfred SANT, Miriam DALLI, and Marlene MIZZI – gave a press-conference and distributed their amendments to the draft of the resolution.

MEPs consider the references to Panama Papers are “totally unrelated” to the Rule of Law, reminding that the prime minister Joseph Muscat had confirmed Maltese tax system competitiveness, and conformity with the rules of the European Union (EU) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

They also point at “selective manner” in which the Media Pluralism Monitor report is quoted shows, according to Maltese MEPs, the “systematic manner”, in which Malta is being “attacked”.

The MEPs offer clarifications on associated Daphne Caruana Galizia information source, who fled the country shortly after prime minister asked for an inquiry to be held against the allegations levelled against him and his family. Named as “Russian woman,” in MEPs notes, and as Maria Efimova, married to a Greek national, by Maltese bloggers, the person is framed as a whistleblower in the European Parliament report. As an employer of a private bank ‘Pilatus’, Ms Efimova claimed she saw the papers, confirming the ownership of an offshore company ‘Egrant’ by Michelle Muscat, the spouse of the prime minister.

The MEPs point out that the “Russian woman” faced two separate criminal proceedings, which started well before the allegations pertaining to Egrant  company name surfaced in media, Efimova was sued for fraud and misappropriation of funds.

The Maltese government has called in for help of foreign investigators, including Dutch forensic experts, the FBI and the Europol.

Concluding amending the draft, the MEPs suggested the position of the European Parliament is dominated by the European People’s Party “partisan agenda”: the developments on rule of law have been “positive”, Maltese representatives say, and strengthened last years by ruling party, in contrast to 25 years of stagnation under Partit Nazzjonalista leadership.

Image: the European Parliament president Antonio Tajani attributing name of Daphne Caruana Galizia to press centre auditorium in Strasbourg.

Hommage à Daphne Caruana Galizia

MEPs unanimously honored journalist’s work, denounced an attack on democracy, and called for numerous concrete actions in Malta and at EU level.

 

During a debate on Monday evening, lead MEPs of the political groups lined up to pay their respects to slain Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia for her bravery and what she represented – the profession ready to ask difficult questions to enable democracy to thrive, and to stand for the rule of law.  The large majority also recognised that the troubles uncovered by Ms Caruana Galizia concerned all of the EU and therefore united action was necessary.

Some placed the blame squarely at the door of the Maltese authorities calling for an international investigation into the case and scrutiny of the rule of law, corruption and organised crime in Malta.  Others chose to focus on the need for wider EU action to be undertaken to fight what had become a common problem.

Earlier in the day, the plenary observed a minute’s silence, in the presence of Ms Caruana Galizia’s family, and President Antonio Tajani announced that the European Parliament’s Strasbourg press conference room will be named after her.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese investigative journalist who rose to prominence with the Panama Papers, was murdered in a car bomb in Malta last week.