Hon Dr Owen Bonnici
Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government
30, Old Treasury Street
Valletta VLT 1410
19 October 2018
Dear Dr Bonnici,
I write to you on behalf of PEN International, Reporters Without Borders (RSF); the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom and the International Press Institute following our meeting with you and Prime Minister Muscat on 15 October.
During our meeting we raised our profound concerns about the repeated destruction of the protest memorial in honour of the assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia at the Great Siege monument in front of the Courts of Justice. The memorial, a form of peaceful protest against her assassination and a demand for justice, has been destroyed more than 60 times and was boarded up by the Ministry for Justice, Culture, and Local Government in September 2018.
We asked you during our meeting to ensure a safe and enabling environment for freedom of assembly and the right to protest, in particular at the site of the memorial to Daphne Caruana Galizia until such time as those who ordered her murder are brought to justice.
We are dismayed, therefore, to learn this morning that the tributes – flowers,candles, photos and messages – laid by the people of Malta and our delegation have been removed on the order of the Ministry for Justice. We believe this is an unacceptable violation of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful protest.
In our meeting, you noted that you also wanted justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia. Your subsequent press release of 17 October stated that the Government of Malta “agrees with the five international organisations that the free press is crucial and a sine qua non in a democracy and the Government is fully committed to keep strengthening freedom of expression in Malta.”
Today we call on you once again to uphold and fulfil this stated commitment in practice by ensuring that the peaceful protest monument remains as long as people wish to honour the memory of, and call for justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Carles Torner, Executive Director, PEN International
Rebecca Vincent, UK Bureau Director, Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Flutura Kusari, Legal Advisor, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom
Scott Griffen, Deputy Director, International Press Institute
For further information, please contact Sarah Clarke, Advocacy Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org.