Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper)., MEPs at the plenary in Strasbourg have taken stock of the situation in Malta and alleged threats to journalists.
They paid tribute to the murdered Maltese reporter Caruana Galizia’s “essential work” in exposing “corruption and organized crime.”
In a resolution adopted with 437 votes in favor, 14 against, and 66 abstentions, Parliament highlighted what they call “the limited progress in judicial proceedings” for Caruana Galizia’s murder.
The resolution noted that there have only been three low-level convictions “and that the mastermind behind the assassination has not been convicted.”
“Investigations into core motives and corresponding judicial proceedings should be concluded without further delay, with the “full and continuous involvement of Europol”, says the text.
MEPs said they “are appalled by the Maltese Prime Minister’s statement earlier this month downplaying institutionalized corruption, and assert that such statements “entrench the culture of impunity”.
They call for “thorough, swift and independent investigations and prosecutions of all public officials allegedly embroiled in corruption, extortion and trading in influence – including in the vote-buying scheme and driving license racket.”
Parliament said, in the resolution, that it “complains about the persistent lack of progress in prosecuting the crimes that Daphne Caruana Galizia investigated, which point to suspects at the highest political levels.”
It also denounces the “institutional failure of law enforcement and justice in Malta”, including the slow progress in proceedings against Pilatus Bank officials and the efforts by authorities to suspend them.
MEPs also speak out against:
- “the impunity afforded to the former prime minister, his chief of staff and the former minister for tourism, also formerly the minister for energy”;
- “police action against activists”;
- “the government’s negative rhetoric targeting journalists and obstacles to media freedom and pluralism;
- the fact that journalists, as well as family members of Daphne Caruana Galizia, are still the target of SLAPPs”;
- “the restrictive abortion law that has been passed in Malta” and
- “The Maltese Citizenship by Investment program.”
Looking beyond Malta, MEPs “condemn any criminalization of and attacks on journalists for doing their job.”
They recall in particular the killings of Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová in Slovakia, of Viktoria Marinova in Bulgaria, of Giorgos Karaivaz in Greece, and of Peter R. de Vries in The Netherlands.