MEPs urge ministers to condemn hate speech towards Daphne Caruana Galizia

MEPs end two-day Malta visit, urging for the animosity and hatred towards Daphne Caruana Galizia and her family to stop

MEP delegates (from left) Sven Giegold, Josef WeidenHolzer, Chairperson Sophia in ’t Veld, Roberta Metsola
MEP delegates (from left) Sven Giegold, Josef WeidenHolzer, Chairperson Sophia in ’t Veld, Roberta Metsola

Dutch MEP Sophia in 't Veld has asked for the animosity and hatred directed at Daphne Caruana Galizia's memory to stop, urging everyone to show sympathy towards the family.

The chairperson of the European Parliament's rule of law delegation was speaking at the end of a two-day visit to Malta in which the MEPs met various stakeholders. The MEPs met Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne and ministers Edward Scicluna and Owen Bonnici this afternoon.

In 't Veld said she noticed high levels of animosity towards Caruana Galizia and her family. "For those people who loved and admired her and even for those who didn't, it's important to remind everyone that there are people grieving for the loss of a loved one."

This was brought up in the MEPs' meeting with the ministers who were urged to show "unerring support" towards the Caruana Galizia family.

The ministers were urged to "strongly condemn the hate speech directed at the family, drop all libel cases passed on to her family members, and that the makeshift memorial issue is addressed".

In 't Veld said that from what she gathered, the ministers seemed very willing to take these points seriously. "After all it's only natural that people would want to pay tribute to someone," she added.

Malta was the second leg of this delegation that visited Slovakia at the start of the week to inquire about the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his girlfriend. These visits were the first activities that the new EU rule of law monitoring group participated in. Nationalist Party MEP Roberta Metsola formed part of the delegation.

In 't Veld said that she noticed the political division in the country and appealed to all political parties to heal the division in society. "The EU is one legal space and if there is one member state that encounters problems, then this effects the system as a whole."

In 't Veld said that although all the laws and institutions were in place, the conclusion was that there seemed to be "a gap or lack of clarity or even passiveness" in triggering an investigation. "Authorities point fingers but no one takes responsibility. This goes against the objective of the EU to create the strongest rule of law culture in the world," she said.

The MEP said that when she asked the Maltese ministers to invite the Venice Commission—made up of former judges, experts and academics to take a look at rule of law systems in place — she was met with positive nods.

"This Commission would make recommendations and it would be a very objective report. It cannot be accused of having a partisan agenda," In 't Veld said.

Green MEP Sven Giegold expressed his disappointment following the two-day visit. "On the major accusations against Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri, we still have no conclusions yet," he said. This was, after all, he argued, why the EU Parliament started looking into Malta in the first place, before Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered.

"I was not convinced that there really is a new start at the MFSA," Giegold said. "There is no new attitude towards consumer protection and a fight against money laundering. While Malta wants to become the hub for cryptocurrency, some operators are already available in the market without a proper check having been conducted for example."

He made reference to the fact that only one police officer in Malta has a financial degree, which, according to him is a far cry from having a police unit able to pry into financial crimes and finding pitfalls. 

When asked whether the delegation believes that it is completely unbiased, the chairperson replied that they are politically neutral. "We have all the main political parties being represented here. We have had extensive talks with government representatives and with government and with the authorities. This was a very balanced approach," she said.

In 't Veld argued that bias is not just limited to who you approach but what you do with the information and how it is processed. "Everybody we met is biased. We are not robots, but this is a European exercise where we learn from each other through dialogue. Certain concerns still persist but others have already been addressed." 

MEP Roberta Metsola replied by saying that, "if you think we are biased, then you should ask why Konrad Mizzi has refused to meet this delegation. He didn't meet us, he hid and he ran instead of shouldering responsibility."

Egrant inquiry

When the MEPs discussed the topic of the Egrant case and the court's conclusion that the Egrant was not linked to the Prime Minister or his wife, Sophia in 't Veld said that they had been handed a 50-page summary of the report.

"But whoever has access to the full report, possibly the Prime Minister and his wife, should make it available," she said. "It's in the interest of democracy that people know what's in that report especially since there's so much unrest. Maximum transparency would be helpful."

The major concerns that still persist, the MEPs said, were related to the humanitarian visas for asylum seekers, and the problem with whoever leads an inquiry into illegal activity. "Nobody takes responsibility for it," In 't Veld said.

Usually, the MEPs argued, political reasons are cited for not investigating certain things, but any murder investigation is important. "Especially Daphne's because of the impact it had on Maltese society. There shouldn't be any bureaucratic obstacles."

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