Tag Archives: Daphne Caruana Galizia

Malta: MEPs monitor investigation

Brussels 29.04.2021 In a resolution adopted on Thursday, April 29, with 635 votes for, 46 against and 12 abstentions, the European Parliament takes stock of developments in the case of Daphne Caruana Galizia and other related investigations, following the testimony of convicted criminal Vincent Muscat.

Expressing deep concern about the possible involvement of ministers and political appointees in the murder case, MEPs urge the government to bring to justice all those implicated in all cases brought to light by the journalist. MEPs monitor investigation.

MEPs acknowledge the progress made in the murder investigation and other, related cases of corruption and money laundering, “albeit greatly delayed”, and call for the search to go beyond the previous prime minister’s chief of staff, including on possible attempts by public officials to conceal evidence and obstruct investigations and judicial proceedings. All allegations of corruption and fraud should be investigated and prosecuted “with the appropriate rigour and at the appropriate level”, they underline.

There are serious and persistent threats to EU values in the country, including media freedom, judicial and police independence, and the freedom of assembly, though MEPs note that the Government of Malta has made some progress in relation to the rule of law and judicial independence. The launch of the structural reform project is welcome, they say, given the ‘deep corruption patterns’ identified by the Commission in its 2020 Rule of Law Report. MEPs acknowledge the steps taken by the Maltese authorities to protect independent journalism, stressing that further improvements are needed, and calling on the Maltese authorities to implement the EU whistle-blower directive.

Parliament is deeply concerned about the harmful impact of citizenship and residence schemes on the integrity of EU citizenship, and reiterates its call on the Maltese government to assure transparency and terminate its schemes. It is also asking the Commission to propose anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) legislation to protect independent European media from vexatious lawsuits intended to silence or intimidate them – a step that MEPs have been calling for since 2018.

Maltese anti-corruption investigative journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered on 16 October 2017. She reported on government corruption, allegations of money laundering, and organised crime. Parliament launched the Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism in October 2020, on the third anniversary of her death, for “outstanding journalism reflecting EU values”.

Bring to justice all those implicated in cases brought to light by Daphne Caruana Galizia:
– Serious threats against EU values, though some progress being made
– Step up fight against fraud and corruption.

The latest revelations about the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia are of great concern, in particular the possible involvement of ministers and political appointees.

Daphne Caruana Galizia PRIZE

Brussels 19.10.2020 The European Parliament has launched Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism on anniversary of her murder commemorating the third time the assassination of the Maltese investigative journalist, the prize will reward journalism reflecting EU principles and values.

The purpose of the prize is to distinguish outstanding journalism that reflects the European Union’s principles and values, as enshrined in the European Charter of Human Rights. The European Parliament considers that protecting press freedom around the world, and particularly that of investigative journalists whilst exercising their duties, is in the vital interest of democratic societies.

Even though the prize is initiated and supported by Parliament, it will be managed by an independent EU-based media partner in order to protect the independence of the prize and the work of the media.

The European Parliament will soon begin selecting an independent organisation to establish the detailed criteria for awarding the prize and decide on who will sit on the jury. A call for tender to select such an organisation will be launched before the end of 2020.

The call for nominees for the prize will be launched around 03 May 2021 – World Press Freedom Day. The annual award ceremony will take each year around the anniversary of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese anti-corruption investigative journalist and blogger who was killed in a car bomb attack on 16 October 2017. She focused on investigative journalism, reporting on government corruption, allegations of money laundering and organised crime.

The launch took place online on Friday 16 October on the EP’s Facebook page. It was led by the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Heidi Hautala (Greens, FI), and MEP David Casa (EPP, MT). They were joined online by the murdered journalist’s son, Andrew Caruana Galizia, from Malta.

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.