GENEVA (3 December 2019) – The recently announced resignation of Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat must mark the beginning of genuine accountability for the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, said two UN human rights experts.
“The past week’s developments in Malta show widespread public demand for accountability,” said David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Killings and Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders.
“The resignation of Mr Muscat, which takes effect in January, must mark the start, and certainly not the end, of genuine accountability for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.”
“The tireless pursuit of justice by the Caruana Galizia family, together with international and local pressure, have finally forced the government to take the steps it has steadily avoided during the two years since her murder.”
The Special Rapporteurs stressed that the Maltese Government had a responsibility to ensure the integrity of the investigation.
“The Government of Malta must now take all the measures necessary to guarantee both the independence and impartiality of the murder investigation. This will not only ensure justice, but will re-establish public trust in the judicial process and in Malta’s public institutions,” they said.
“Independence means that anyone potentially implicated in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, even if indirectly or by omission, must be fully removed from the public inquiry, including its overall conduct and the chain of decision-making, while impartiality entails a duty to follow the facts and ensure that the investigations are untainted by outside considerations.”
“Given the nature of the crisis, it is of crucial importance that the Maltese authorities ensure transparency regarding the measures they are taking to ensure compliance with these principles.”
The Special Rapporteurs said that, given the allegations regarding the involvement of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff and other ministers, it was essential for Mr. Muscat to remove himself from any role related to the conduct of the public inquiry.
“The public inquiry and any other investigation or prosecution must be allowed to proceed without being tainted by suspicion on conflict of interest,” the experts said.
“The public inquiry or other investigations should also consider the factors behind Caruana Galizia’s assassination, including the major cases of corruption she was investigating and had denounced repeatedly.”
The UN Special Rapporteurs, having previously raised their concerns with the Government of Malta, emphasised their willingness to provide any relevant support to the public inquiry launched earlier this year and highlighted that they would continue to monitor the situation closely.
Mr. David Kaye isSpecial Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Agnes Callamard is Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Michel Forst is Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.