[WATCH LIVE] European Parliament debates Daphne Caruana Galizia murder, media freedom in Malta

Overarching message of MEPs is the that journalism is essential for democracy, Malta and the EU failed to protect Daphne Caruana Galizia, the Maltese government is duty bound to ensure the murderers are brought to justice and to address institutional issues

The case of Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder is currently being discussed in the EP
The case of Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder is currently being discussed in the EP

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The murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, which has gripped the attention of international media, is currently being discussed by MEPs in the European Parliament, during a plenary session.  

The debate, which is being framed within the context of the protection of journalists and the defence of media freedom in Malta, sees various MEPs condeming the barbaric crime, and emphasising that the perpetrators be brought to justice.

Frans Timmermans, First vice-president of the European Commission said that the eyes of Europe and the world were on the Maltese government to ensure that whoever is behind this crime is brought to justice.

“A healthy democracy requires a free and pluralistic media, free from state pressures,” he added, “the right of a journalist to investigate is at the heart of our values and needs to be guaranteed at all times.”

“If journalists have to fear for their lives just for doing their job, they cannot operate in the way they need to to serve society.”

He maintained that it was the duty of the Maltese government to investigate and prosecute this case. The Maltese authorities and institutions must deliver, he said, and Malta had to show Europe and the world that its rules and regulations were healthy and robust.

He emphasised that the only way we could honour Caruana Galizia is by investigating the issues which underly what happened.

"If problems of a more structural nature are brought to light, the Commission will not hesitate to take up its responsibility,", he stated.

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Esteban González Pons from the People’s Party said that Caruana Galicia’s murder was more than the tragic murder of a troublesome journalist, it was a message that we are supposed to remain silent.

“The EU failed Daphne, nobody protected her enough and the Maltese authorities who should have protected her and her family did not act. I call on the European Commission to look into the situation of the rule of law in Malta - as Daphne said, the situation is desperate, González Pons maintained.

Gianni Pittella, leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats said that whoever carried out the attack was the enemy of Europe, and the member states had to make available to the Maltese enquiry their best services.

He maintained that journalists' work of checks and balances were important for democracy, and they had to be protected.

Monica Macovei, from the European Conservatives and Reformists asked who was going to investigate Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. “The prime minister and the entire government of Malta should resign,” she said.

Sophia in ’t Veld from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe said that the investigation into the corruption and crime which Caruana Galizia undertook, had to be continued. The Maltese government had to give explanations about the allegations of corruption, she said, and the Commission had to investigate such allegations.

"If one member state does not uphold the European standards in terms of rule of law, then it means there is no rule of law in the EU," she said.

MEP Miguel Urbán Crespo, making reference to Caruana Galizia’s work on uncovering the Panama Papers scandal, argued that the interests of whistleblowers and journalists had to be put before those of businesses and had to be protected.

German MEP Sven Giegold said it was clear why the murderers did not place the bomb under the seat of the police commissioner of attorney general. They killed Caruana Galizia because it was her who uncovered numerous cases of corruption and money laundering, he claimed.

"Malta has replaced the rule of law for a culture of impunity for the powerful," he maintained, as he proposed that an independent investigator should be appointed to investigate the murder, and Malta should join the European Public Prosecutor's Office.

A European Galizia prize for investigative journalists is also being suggested, he said.

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