PEN International welcomes the European Commission’s response of 12 June 2018 to the organisation’s open letter signed by over 300 influential writers, publishers and PEN members. PEN’s open letter had called for urgent progress in the investigation into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and raised concern about derogatory comments and inappropriate behaviour by Jason Micallef, Chair of Valletta 2018, in relation to the assassinated journalist.
The European Commission’s letter directly addresses PEN International’s ongoing profound concerns relating to the independence, effectiveness and impartiality of the investigation into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. It reiterates the Commission’s call to the Maltese authorities and institutions to ‘deliver on their clear commitment to do everything in their power to ensure that the perpetrators of the assassination and those who ordered it be brought to justice.’
European Commission First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, points out that it ‘cannot bear any responsibility for public statements by a national chair designated by the national authorities’, but goes on to strongly encourage anyone representing a European Capital of Culture ‘to express him or herself in a manner that reflects the common values on which the EU is based’, such as ‘democracy, freedom of speech and the rule of law’. Timmermans adds that ‘any statements made in this context that go against this spirit are highly regrettable and should, in the Commission’s view be avoided.’
The behavior of the management of Valletta 2018 has prompted a sustained outcry from the international community; including 73 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), 100 Maltese artists, eight past and future representatives of the European Capital of Culture, as well as the twin 2018 European Capital of Culture city, Leuuwarden, in the Netherlands.
‘Eight months after the brutal assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, there is still impunity for this horrendous crime. Nor has there been accountability for the Chair of Valletta 2018 whose behaviour has been completely at odds with his role of safeguarding freedom of expression and culture. We call on the Maltese authorities to implement their professed commitment to European values and sanction senior public officials who openly threaten the values of democracy, freedom of expression and the rule of law,’ said Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International.
In relation to the investigation, PEN International welcomes the work of the mandate of Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt as the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe Special Rapporteur into the investigation of the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. On 25 June 2018, Omtzigt said a preliminary overview of the case raised ‘many issues concerning the rule of law in Malta, the progress made in investigating the murder and the attitude and behaviour of certain senior public officials.’
For further information please contact Sarah Clarke International Policy and Advocacy Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org and Aurélia Dondo, Europe Programme Coordinator: Aurelia.email@example.com at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 20 7405 0339