Describing protests as political party tools can stir up further unrest, NGO warns

Aditus Foundation: “Statements describing civil society organisations as political party tools, are unfounded and made with an intent to stir up hatred and further unrest”

The shrinking of public demonstration space in Freedom Square where Parliament House is located was flagged by Aditus
The shrinking of public demonstration space in Freedom Square where Parliament House is located was flagged by Aditus

The human rights NGO Aditus Foundation has called on the Maltese government not to unduly interfere with the right of peaceful assembly, in a bid to avert civil unrest.

Aditus said the peaceful demonstrations, which have been taking place Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech was arrested on suspicion of being the mastermind behind the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination, were a national call of justice and accountability. “Until the nation and its institutions embark on a path of truth and justice, the people will insist on exercising their fundamental rights of free expression and free peaceful assembly.”

Aditus said that if unchecked, government behaviour risks crossing the line between permissible interventions to maintain public law and order, and actions amounting to human rights violations.

“We appreciate that in fulfilling its duty to protect all persons in Malta, the government is empowered to take actions it deems necessary. We also fully acknowledge the challenges presented to the government by large demonstrations of the kind that have been occurring on an almost daily basis outside key institutions: the Prime Minister’s office, Parliament House and the Law Courts.

“Yet we feel it is necessary to remind the government that demonstrations and public expressions of opinions, aligned or opposed to government’s own views, are an integral part of functioning and strong democracies.”

Aditus said that any action to curtail, limit or deprive anyone from exercising their fundamental human rights must occur only within very strict limits imposed by law. “That the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly are solidly enshrined in Malta’s Constitution. That they are also present in internal human rights instruments creating binding legal obligations on Malta, such as the European Convention on Human rights, the European Unions’ Fundamental Right Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

Aditus expressed solidarity with members of media organisations locked in the Prime Minister’s Office by unidentified men after last Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, and denounced the verbal and physical attacks on journalists by government employees.

“We flag, as an act of direct provocation, the relentless shrinking of public demonstration space in Freedom Square where Parliament House is located. We unequivocally condemn as false and inflammatory public statements by Government officials that demonstrators are intent on causing bloodshed. We stress that statements made by Government officials, describing civil society organisations as political party tools, are unfounded and made with an intent to stir up hatred and further unrest.”

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