David Casa calls for Europe-wide action against lawsuits that cripple journalists

At a panel discussion in the European Parliament, Nationalist MEP David Casa says Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri are European problems

David Casa: 'We cannot bring Daphne Caruana Galizia back. But what we can do is to fully understand her struggles in life, and take action so that journalists do not go through what she had to endure'
David Casa: 'We cannot bring Daphne Caruana Galizia back. But what we can do is to fully understand her struggles in life, and take action so that journalists do not go through what she had to endure'

David Casa has called for Europe-wide action against the use of lawsuits to intimidate and bully journalists through forum shopping.

The Nationalist MEP said there must be consequences for the systemic targeting of a journalist in an EU member state.

Casa was referring to the phenomenon known as SLAPP, by which the plaintiff opens a lawsuit against a journalist in a foreign jurisdiction, where damages may be higher. Forum shopping like this is used to financially cripple journalists and muzzle them.

He was addressing an event on Thursday at the European Parliament titled Risking Everything to Uphold EU Values and Democracy: Protecting Journalists in the EU.

The discussion took place a day after the second anniversary of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder was commemorated in Malta and several European capitals.

“We cannot bring Daphne Caruana Galizia back. But what we can do is to fully understand her struggles in life, and take action so that journalists do not go through what she had to endure,” Casa said, adding that the slain journalist was the target of a coordinated hate campaign spanning a decade.

“It had culminated in multiple abusive legal threats against her, known as SLAPP. In certain cases, these were planned in concert with persons in highest levels of power in Malta,” Casa said.

The reference was to a threat from Henley and Partners, a passport agent, to file a lawsuit against Caruana Galizia, which had the tacit approval of the Prime Minister, the Justice Minister and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff.

Casa also referred to the importance of ensuring that institutions do their duty because a journalist can only go so far in uncovering wrongdoing.

“Daphne was most in danger when those that she exposed remained in positions of power… Following a journalist’s investigation, it is the country’s institutions that must do their duty. A journalist cannot prosecute suspects. Those that Daphne exposed as corrupt - engaged in criminal activity - continue to hold public office today,” Casa said.

He referred to Caruana Galizia’s work on the Panama Papers and 17 Black, a Dubai company listed as a target client for the companies set up by Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri.

Casa added that it was “unacceptable” that the owner of 17 Black, Yorgen Fenech, continues to run Malta’s power station. Fenech is a shareholder and director in Electrogas that runs the gas power station.

“The Panama Papers led to resignations in countries like Pakistan and Mongolia. But not in Malta… Konrad Mizzi is currently aspiring to become Malta’s next Prime Minister. We have to be stronger in standing against these travesties of justice. Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri and Yorgen Fenech are not just Maltese problems. They are European problems,” Casa insisted.

The panel included European Commission Vice President-elect Vera Jourova, and Matthew Caruana Galizia.

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