There was a “notable lack of credible indications” that Maltese authorities were diligently investigating who could have planned and commissioned the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Council of Europe report on the media said.
The first annual report assessing media freedom threats to Council of Europe member states is being published on Tuesday. It was compiled by partner organisations of the Council of Europe’s Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists. The partner organisations include Reporters Without Borders and the International Federation of Journalists.
The report warned that, despite three suspects being detained in December 2017, there were no “credible indications” that those who commissioned Ms Caruana Galizia’s killing were being investigated.
That task, the report argued, called for a thorough and impartial examination of leads arising from the journalist’s reporting on high-level financial crimes and other forms of wrongdoing.
Murders raised public and official awareness in the EU
Ms Caruana Galizia’s work often implicated leading political and business figures, the report added.
The report also noted Ms Caruana Galizia was facing over 30 defamation lawsuits at the time of her death, many of which remain pending.
“The continued pursuit of many of those cases by the plaintiffs, including government officials, illustrates a deep structural injustice,” the report warned.
Ms Caruana Galizia’s murder and the assassination of Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak “dramatically raised public and official awareness in the EU of the twin crisis of journalist safety and impunity that has already taken root within the bloc, as well as in other parts of the Council of Europe area”.
It added that, while Malta’s decision to repeal its criminal defamation law was positive, other journalists in Europe were still facing jail sentences for defamation, or for insulting the head of state.
“Public officials and politicians must display a greater degree of tolerance toward criticism,” the report added.
Data on media freedom alerts sent to Council of Europe member states was also published.
The state was the source of the threat to journalists in 57% of the alerts received last year.
Of the remaining threats, 21% originated from non-State actors, and 22% of them originated from an unknown source, figures showed.