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PEN International reaffirms support for the Daphne Caruana Galizia family

Tuesday 24 July 2018 - 3:44pm

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PEN International reaffirms support for the Daphne Caruana Galizia family, upholding PEN Charter and tackling use of libel law to silence writers

In response to the English PEN statement issued on Monday 23 July, PEN International reaffirms its unwavering support for the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia in seeking justice for her assassination.

PEN International is also strongly committed to combatting the silencing of writers, journalists and bloggers through the use of criminal and civil libel and defamation laws. We consider this issue to lie at the heart of the PEN Charter, which unites all PEN members in a pledge ‘to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression’, and will be looking at how we can respond to new ways in which libel laws are being used to silence journalists.

Jennifer Clement, PEN International President said:

PEN International is firmly committed to protecting writers from abuses - legal cases, intimidation, violent threats, violence, online attacks. We defend free speech, the freedom to read and write. Our charter requires us to do so. In addition, for writers at risk or in jail, and for their families, PEN has always been a place of hope, shelter and solace.

We see more and more that legal processes are chilling free speech, and are actively campaigning against this alongside our Centres around the world. We need look deeply, as an organization, at what more we can do to combat new threats and the potential conflicts of interest in relation to our governance.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was a brave journalist committed to uncovering the truth. She was threatened with violence and sued during her lifetime, and paid the ultimate price. PEN Centres remain committed to campaigning to obtain justice for her murder and to defending her work and her legacy.”

Salil Tripathi, Chair of the PEN International Writers in Prison Committee said:

“At this time, we need to emphasize that sometimes PEN Centres take positions that are at variance with PEN ideals. Each PEN Centre has full autonomy and their respective boards take decisions based on local realities; the positions they take do not necessarily reflect PEN International's positions, or those of other Centres.

There are over 150 PEN Centres globally, each fully autonomous from the other and with independent governance and decision-making structures, operating based on local realities. All Centres are united in a commitment to the PEN Charter and are collectively entrusted with the guardianship and interpretation of its values, which is exercised democratically through a yearly global assembly. Being a membership organization with a global reach means that at times, Centres may take positions that do not reflect PEN International’s or those of other Centres.

In the present case, Daphne Caruna Galizia's family has asked English PEN not to be part of any campaign for justice for her. English PEN has respected that decision. Other PEN centres, including PEN International remain committed to campaigning for justice for Daphne, and are working with the family.”

Finally, Jennifer Clement, PEN International President added:

“This is a distressing moment, and we would like to reiterate PEN International's firm commitment to the defence of the right to freedom of expression and of free media.”

For further information, please contact Sarah Clarke, International Policy and Advocacy Manager, or Ebony Riddell Bamber, Director of Advocacy & Communications

 t. +44 (0)20 7405 0338 | Twitter: @pen_int | Facebook: www.facebook.com/peninternational | www.pen-international.org

Note to editors:

PEN International promotes literature and freedom of expression and is governed by the PEN Charter and the principles it embodies: unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and between all nations. Founded in London in 1921, PEN International – PEN’s Secretariat – connects an international community of writers. It is a forum where writers meet freely to discuss their work; it is also a voice speaking out for writers silenced in their own countries. Through Centres in over 100 countries, PEN operates on five continents. PEN International is a non-political organisation which holds Special Consultative Status at the UN and Associate Status at UNESCO. PEN International is a registered charity in England and Wales with registration number 1117088