Caruana Galizia's sons tell Council of Europe to keep up pressure on Malta

'Malta should not be allowed to stop here,' Caruana Galizia's sons tell the Council of Europe's monitoring committee and insist that new Prime Minister Robert Abela be requested to implement recommendations of Council's specialised bodies

From left: Matthew Caruana Galizia, Paul Caruana Galizia, and Andrew Caruana Galizia hold a banner calling for justice in the wake of their mother's murder
From left: Matthew Caruana Galizia, Paul Caruana Galizia, and Andrew Caruana Galizia hold a banner calling for justice in the wake of their mother's murder

In light of new Prime Minister, Robert Abela, taking office, the sons of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia penned an open letter to the Council of Europe's monitoring committee to keep up the pressure on Malta to implement recommendations of its specialised bodies and to request the Maltese government to commit on this issue.

"As a direct outcome of evidence that has emerged implicating the former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff in our mother’s assassination, Malta’s ruling Labour Party has elected a new leader — the candidate, Robert Abela, who promised continuity has now replaced Muscat as prime minister. The risk is that a change of leadership will lift pressure for the government to pursue any of the other pressing changes that the country needs and which the Venice Commission, GRECO, MoneyVal, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have recommended," they wrote.

Matthew, Paul and Andrew asked the monitoring committee to keep up the pressure on the country and to not allow Malta to stop here with implementing necessary change, noting that Abela had insisted that the Venice Commission's recommendations not be implemented "lock, stock and barrel."

In the open letter, the sons argue that in a country with effective institutions and true separation of powers, it should not take the murder of its most prominent journalist for a government official to be held to account. And even then, they wrote, it's only partial accountability.

With regards to former chief of staff, Keith Schembri, "the only check he faced in his destructive career in public office was our mother’s reporting, and it is only the exposure of his suspected role in her assassination that has brought a measure of accountability in the form of his resignation from public office.

"It was clear on 16 October 2017 and it has grown clearer since that our mother’s assassination was ultimately caused by the failure of the country’s weak democratic checks and balances. Our mother’s assassination is only the most egregious example of how vulnerable this system is — that is, based entirely on unchecked trust — when the individuals elected to public office are themselves complicit in criminal activity."

All independent assessments, by bodies of the Council of Europe and the European Union, have so far come to the same conclusions and have offered recommendations to support Malta on its path towards functioning democracy, built on the rule of law. The journalist's sons insisted that none of these recommendations has been taken up by the outgoing government and none has been referred to by the new Prime Minister, whether it was in the run-up to the election or in its aftermath.

"Malta should not be allowed to stop here... the new prime minister, who has yet to commit to reform or to even acknowledge the depth of the country’s institutional crisis, should be requested to commit to a clear timeline to implement the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s specialised bodies and Parliamentary Assembly in their entirety. Adherence to this timeline should be closely monitored by the Committee. Anything less will see Malta’s obligations to the Council of Europe betrayed in favour of honouring obligations to the criminal system Malta’s former prime minister cultivated and protected," they wrote, adding that they were prepared to provide testimony to the Commitee.

The Council of Europe will convene on Thursday in Paris for an exchange of views on whether Malta is honouring its obligations and commitments.