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Statement on the Ministry of Justice’s repeated destruction of the protest memorial for justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia

Tuesday 23 October 2018 - 6:19pm

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23 October 2018

The response from Malta’s Minister of Justice, Owen Bonnici, to the joint open letter of 22 October 2018 signed by PEN International, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, the European Federation of Journalists, the International Press Institute, and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) – which concerned the repeated destruction of the protest memorial for Daphne Caruana Galizia on the orders of the Ministry of Justice – fails to address the delegation’s legitimate concerns relating to the rights to freedom of expression and assembly in Malta in the aftermath of the assassination of the country’s leading journalist.

The unusually hostile stance of the government in repeatedly clearing the peaceful memorial in front of the Courts of Justice - which calls for those who ordered Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination to be brought to justice - has frightening implications for freedom of expression and association in Malta.

By continually destroying the candles, flowers and messages left by those calling for an end to impunity in this case - the handling of which has raised major concerns about the rule of law in Malta - we are concerned that the authorities are perpetuating intolerance and contributing to a climate of hate towards an assassinated journalist, a concern we raised during our meeting with the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice on 15 October.

Contrary to Minister of Justice Bonnici’s assertion, this peaceful protest for justice is not an ‘activity’ restricted to a number of hours or days. Until such time as those who commissioned the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia are brought to justice, this peaceful protest must be protected.

These destructive actions by the Ministry of Justice further tarnish Malta’s standing as a member of the EU and the broader international community. We will continue to raise these concerns relating to freedom of expression and assembly in Malta with the relevant international authorities.

We reiterate our call for the government of Malta to uphold and fulfil its stated commitment to freedom of expression and association 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.

For further information, please contact Sarah Clarke, Advocacy Manager, sarah.clarke@pen-international.org