‘Yes, she was brave, but it has lit­tle value with­out a sense of jus­tice and out­rage’ - Peter Caru­ana Gal­izia

‘Malta needs to show the world that its reg­u­la­tions are ro­bust’ – EU Com­mis­sion Press room ded­i­cated to Daphne in­au­gu­rated

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Ju­lian Bon­nici in Stras­bourg

Peter Caru­ana Gal­izia, the husband of the slain jour­nal­ist, gave a mov­ing speech to a stand­ing ova­tion in mem­ory of his wife at the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s press room in Stras­bourg, which will now be named af­ter her, say­ing of her sur­real mur­der; “when le­gal threats proved in­ef­fec­tive, only one so­lu­tion was left. To say she was brave is true, but it has lit­tle value with­out a sense of jus­tice and out­rage.”

“She never grew cyn­i­cal, she only grew more ap­palled; and the more frus­trated she got, the more beau­ti­ful our gar­den grew, Daphne cre­ated a par­al­lel world of beauty in a coun­try that has slipped fur­ther away from Euro­pean val­ues.”

He went on to praise his three sons for pos­sess­ing the same strength and in­tegrity as their mother, and spoke of the 36 li­bel cases the fam­ily now faces.

“Even at her death her as­sets re­mained frozen be­cause of the Min­is­ter for Econ­omy.”

EP Pres­i­dent An­to­nio Ta­jani who also spoke at the event said that, “half a bil­lion Euro­peans will not ac­cept a jour­nal­ist be­ing as­sas­si­nated,” and re­it­er­ated his de­sire to find out who the killers were, and who had sent them.

The re­nam­ing of the press con­fer­ence was sym­bolic, he said, be­cause peo­ple will be con­stantly re­minded to never lower their guard when it comes to free­dom of ex­pres­sion and the press.

“We are not afraid of any­one who wants to re­strict free­dom, of any­one who wants to suf­fo­cate the free press, to un­der­mine democ­racy,” Ta­jani said

Christoph de Loir, from re­porters with­out bor­ders, said that Caru­ana Gal­izia’s name will now be syn­ony­mous with the free­dom of the press and brav­ery.

Ta­jani would not be drawn into a com­ment to ques­tions asked by The Malta In­de­pen­dent, af­ter it emerged that Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat was sell­ing pass­ports in Hong Kong on the day the rule of law in Malta was de­bated, and the press room was named af­ter as­sas­si­nated jour­nal­ist Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia, some­thing which Werner Langer of the EPP de­fined as ‘ar­ro­gance’.

“It is not my job,” Ta­jani said, “Mus­cat is not un­der my con­trol, the prob­lem right now is to know who the killers are, and who sent them.”

Pressed fur­ther as to whether this be­hav­iour was symp­to­matic to the al­le­ga­tions that the rule of law in Malta had col­lapsed, Ta­jani once again proved re­luc­tant to com­ment.

“We need to re­spect the rule of law, but we are not against or in favour of the gov­ern­ment, our po­si­tion is in favour of free­dom, jour­nal­ists, and who the killers are.”

Euro­pean De­bate on Rule of Law in Malta

Es­to­nian Deputy Min­is­ter for EU Af­fairs Matti Maasikas, speak­ing on be­half of the coun­cil, opened the de­bate, the sec­ond of its kind within a cou­ple of months, by say­ing that the free­dom of the press is a vi­tal pil­lar of democ­racy.

Maasikas said that the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment has shown that it is de­ter­mined to act, and that it had not hin­dered in­ves­ti­ga­tions (into the mur­der) and sought in­ter­na­tional as­sis­tance to en­sure that no stone is left un­turned.

Speak­ing on be­half of the com­mis­sion, Frans Tim­mer­mans said that, “in­sti­tu­tions must de­liver to en­sure that the per­pe­tra­tors will be brought to jus­tice; more gen­er­ally Malta needs to show to Europe and the world, that its rules and reg­u­la­tions are healthy and ro­bust.”

He said that the rules at Euro­pean level need to be im­ple­mented on the ground; and that the fight against money laun­der­ing is key in this re­spect. With re­gards to Malta, he said there is no gen­eral con­cerns over Malta’s com­pli­ance, but im­prove­ments can be made, and that the com­mis­sion has sent rec­om­men­da­tions, specif­i­cally with re­gards to the FIAU.

Tanja Fa­jon, from the Group of the Progressive Al­liance of So­cial­ists and Demo­crat, dis­agreed that the rule of law and in­sti­tu­tions had col­lapsed, and said that it was vi­tally im­por­tant that the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment con­ducted `an open and trans­par­ent in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mur­der.

In re­ply, Frank En­gel from the EPP told par­lia­ment, the so­cial­ists in par­tic­u­lar, that they were not as­sert­ing that the rule of law hadn’t col­lapsed af­ter Caru­ana Gal­izia’s death, but a long time be­fore and that it was a con­se­quence of the col­lapse.

This sen­ti­ment was echoed by PN MEPs Roberta Met­sola and David Casa, with the for­mer telling par­lia­ment that the coun­try de­pended on the EU to guar­an­tee that the rule of law is never un­der­mined.

“This house is the last bas­tion of hope for the peo­ple we rep­re­sent. We hoped that this house would guar­an­tee that no politi­cians with delu­sions of grandeur will tram­ple our rights with­out our Euro­pean part­ners in­ter­ven­ing.”

She went on to criticise the PM for call­ing those who spoke up against the gov­ern­ment as traitors. “The com­mis­sion can­not re­main silent, the sit­u­a­tion is des­per­ate, stand with us and do not let us down now when we need you the most.”

Casa, while stress­ing the rule of law has col­lapsed in the coun­try in the face of a cul­ture of im­punity, also crit­i­cised the com­mis­sion and Tim­mer­mans specif­i­cally, say­ing that in spite of an of­fi­cial let­ter, a num­ber of par­lia­men­tary ques­tions, and a par­lia­men­tary de­bate on this is­sue in Malta, noth­ing was done.

Miriam Dalli ad­mit­ted that the last weeks were dif­fi­cult for the coun­try, but dis­puted the un­just per­cep­tion be­ing pre­sented in par­lia­ment.

“I ask, in a state where the rule of law has col­lapsed, would the gov­ern­ment in­tro­duce party fi­nanc­ing laws, a whis­tle blower’s act, a press act which will re­move crim­i­nal li­bel and pre­cau­tion­ary war­rants, and one of the best LGBTI law ever en­acted.”

Dalli said that mem­bers were at haste to con­demn the coun­try, with­out ob­jec­tively ex­am­in­ing the facts, clearly show­ing the dou­ble stan­dards of some MEPs.

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Al­fred Sant said that in order to re­main strong ac­tion must be taken by Par­lia­ment ac­cord­ing to facts and due process, or it would lose its cred­i­bil­ity.

He then said that the ma­jor­ity gained by the Labour Party in the last elec­tion and strong eco­nomic growth as ev­i­dence that the per­cep­tion of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment is wrong, who he said is be­ing led by other in­ter­ests.

Photo: EU Au­dio­vi­su­als

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