Updated | MEPs urge Maltese government to publish Egrant report, terminate citizenship scheme

MEPs from the European Parliament's civil liberties committee tonight discussed a resolution on the rule of law in Malta and Slovakia

The LIBE committee will be discussing the draft motion for a resolution on Monday evening (File photo)
The LIBE committee will be discussing the draft motion for a resolution on Monday evening (File photo)

Updated at 8: 25pm with Sophia in 't Veld's comments

MEPs called on the Maltese government to publish the full Egrant inquiry report, and to halt the country’s sale of passports scheme, in accordance with a draft motion for a resolution tabled in the European Parliament.

The MEPs, from the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee (LIBE), which is charged with monitoring the rule of law and the fight against corruption in Malta and Slovakia, discussed the draft motion concerning the two countries this evening.

LIBE MEPs have come to Malta on three occasions as part of their assessment of the situation in the country, with there first visit having taken place in December 2017, two months after the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

LIBE called on the relevant Maltese authorities to publish the full, un-redacted report of the Egrant magisterial inquiry.


MEP rule of law delegation back in Malta to assess situation

It also requested the government to launch an investigation into the Panama Papers revelations and the links between the Dubai-based company 17 Black and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri.

The committee went on call on the government to terminate its investor citizenship and residence schemes, and to commission an independent and international investigation into the impact of this sale on the Maltese anti-money laundering enforcement capabilities, on further cross-border crime and on the effects on the integrity of the Schengen area.

The contract between the government and Henley & Partners should be fully disclosed and terminated, the committee requested.

Moreover, it called on the Maltese Parliament to implement all the Venice Commission's recommendations, “without exceptions and in a retroactive manner, where relevant, to ensure that past and current decisions, positions and structures are improved”

Caruana Galizia murder

Regarding Caruana Galizia’s murder, the committee is asking the government to set up without delay a full and independent public inquiry into the assassination, “in particular, on the circumstances that have allowed the murder to happen, the response by the public authorities to it, and the measures that can be put in place to ensure that such a murder will not happen again”.

Furthermore, it notes with concern that the Maltese authorities “never issued an official legal assistance request to the German Federal Criminal Police Office (‘Bundeskriminalamt’) to be given access to the data stored on Caruana Galizia’s laptops and hard disks after they were handed over to the German authorities by her family”.

The committee also touched upon the issue of the slain journalist’s memorial at the foot of the Great Siege Monument in Valletta, saying that it is of “utmost importance” that a solution is found, in cooperation with civil society and Caruana Galizia’s family, so that remembrance can take place unhindered.

Sophia in 't Veld's statements

"Step up the pace!" said Dutch MEP Sophia in 't Veld with regards Malta implementing the recommendations of the Venice Commission. If possible, she said, these should be implemented retroactively since there are "systemic weaknesses" in Malta's rule of law.

Member of LIBE, in 't Veld suggested that Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder could be tied to allegations of the government's corrupt practices. In fact, in 't Veld said that the Maltese government's policies seemed to be encouraging crime and fraud.

"I strongly urge the Maltese government to not just firmly condemn the continued hate speech towards the Caruana Galizia family but to also drop all the libel suits. The family has suffered enough," she said.

The MEP also alluded to the Caruana Galizia's makeshift memorial and said that while it sounds like a "small thing", coming to an agreement on the memorial would help heal the rift in Malta.

In 't Veld also urged Malta to abolish the Golden Visa scheme and suspend the contract with Henley and Partners and to investigate all allegations and rumours in relation to the late journalist's murder because, she said, "while there are several authorities which have the powers to investigate, these don't seem to be doing any investigating."