Daphne Caruana Galizia Library

Press freedom groups visit Malta on five-year anniversary of…

Press freedom groups visit Malta on five-year anniversary of Daphne’s murder to push for reforms

Between 13 and 17 October 2022, an international press freedom mission will visit Malta, five years after the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on 16 October 2017. The country visit follows up on similar missions held in previous years.

Representatives of ARTICLE 19 Europe, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the International Press Institute (IPI) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have requested a meeting with the Prime Minister of Malta Robert Abela and relevant ministers in an attempt to continue the dialogue with the Maltese government. In addition, they will be meeting with civil society representatives, journalists and other key stakeholders.


The delegation will seek to meet with:

  • Prime Minister Robert Abela and relevant ministers (meeting to be confirmed);
  • Information and Data Protection Commissioner, Ian Deguara;
  • Members of the diplomatic community and representatives of the European Commission; and
  • Maltese journalists, media workers and civil society organisations.


Despite a broad outcry, including by the organisations represented in the delegation, for full justice and accountability for Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, judicial proceedings have so far made very limited progress. Additionally, the Government has been slow to implement press freedom reforms recommended by the landmark Public Inquiry, and it has failed to organise proper public consultations on legislative proposals.


Accordingly, as in previous years, the continued need for justice and accountability for Caruana Galizia’s assassination will feature prominently on the delegation’s agenda. Additionally, representatives will also focus on the other systemic failings that continue to negatively affect Malta’s press freedom climate. They will also support Caruana Galizia’s family and national civil society as part of local commemoration events.

MFRR 3 consortium logos

Tackling Impunity: Lessons from the Public Inquiry into the…

Tackling Impunity: Lessons from the Public Inquiry into the Assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia

The murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia sent shockwaves across Europe and was a grim reminder of the risk reporters face while uncovering abuses of power. It was the first assassination of a journalist worldwide to be investigated through an independent Public Inquiry. To mark one year since the damning findings were unveiled, ARTICLE 19 Europe and The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation today publish a report that explores the efficacy of the Maltese Public Inquiry model, assessing whether it stands up as good practice.

The Public Inquiry into the circumstances of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination was the first Public Inquiry to have taken place in Malta in nearly 20 years. It followed a strong public demand for a strengthened capacity to tackle corruption and wider rule-of-law reforms. The research from ARTICLE 19 Europe and The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, ‘Tackling Impunity: Lessons from the Public Inquiry into the Assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia’, assesses the significance of the Maltese Public Inquiry in the fight for truth, accountability and justice for Daphne’s assassination and the vital role civil society and international organisations play in ensuring an independent investigation is carried out. In addition, the report identifies lessons that can be learned from the Public Inquiry process so far, summarises its key achievements, and makes recommendations to the Government of Malta, to European Union institutions, and to international civil society.

This report was coordinated as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States, Candidate Countries and Ukraine.

MFRR 3 consortium logos

Malta: Public Inquiry report recommendations must be implemented

Malta: Public Inquiry report recommendations must be implemented

A year on from the publication of the Public Inquiry report into the assassination of Malta’s leading investigative journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, the undersigned organisations urge the Maltese authorities to comply with their international human rights obligations and implement the report’s recommendations without further delay to ensure effective protection of journalists going forward. We are concerned at the lack of implementation of the recommendations of this milestone Public Inquiry.

Today, 29 July, marks the one-year anniversary of the publication of the landmark Public Inquiry report into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, which was found to be both predictable and preventable. The Inquiry found ‘[T]he State should bear the responsibility for the assassination by creating a climate of impunity, generated from the highest levels at the core of the administration … and spreading its tentacles to other entities such as regulatory institutions and the Police.’1 This, the Board found, led to the collapse of the rule of law; a failure to acknowledge the real and immediate risk to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s life; and a failure to take effective preventive measures to protect her.


In its report the Board of Inquiry made a number of key recommendations to restore the rule of law and avoid that an assassination like that of Daphne Caruana Galizia can ever happen again. The recommendations provided an historic opportunity for the Government of Malta to implement its international human rights obligations to create an enabling environment for journalism and to protect journalists. 


The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation and Article 19 Europe publish a report today on the Public Inquiry including an evaluation of the implementation of its recommendations. It finds that to date, with minor exceptions, the Government of Malta has failed to implement these recommendations and has rejected proposals to implement anti-corruption legislation. The changes introduced so far are token gestures, rather than urgently needed, radical and effective change. 


In particular, the Government has failed to implement the recommendation to introduce laws tackling financial crime and corruption. Notwithstanding the changes made to the appointment of the Attorney General and Police Commissioner as part of the recommendations of the Venice Commission, serious concerns prevail that the Malta Police and the Office of the Attorney General still fail to truly initiate investigations and carry out effective prosecutions on the trails of corruption leading to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, as well as on related scandals that emerged post her death, alongside ongoing magisterial inquiries. 


The persistent lack of political will to prosecute corruption revealed by journalists, including Daphne Caruana Galizia, has been seriously criticised. The European Public Prosecutor (EPPO), the EU’s financial crime watchdog, Laura Kövesi, has questioned whether there is political will to tackle corruption commenting that, “Malta is paying lip service in its efforts to crack down on EU fraud and corruption.” Even where investigations have been initiated, the profound delays in prosecuting corruption, including in the Pilatus Bank scandal uncovered by Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2016, contribute to a context of impunity for corruption. The delay in implementing the Public Inquiry recommendations on anti-corruption are prejudicial to journalists who continue to report on the corruption which Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed for exposing and on other malfeasance and who remain at serious risk. 


While some initiatives have been taken within the Maltese police force to establish a main contact point with journalists, much work remains to be done both in terms of training of the police on international standards as they relate to freedom of expression and in securing the trust of journalists. Offers of assistance in this regard from international media freedom organisations have gone unanswered. 


A “Committee of Experts on Media” was announced on 11 January 2022 and tasked to provide Prime Minister Robert Abela with feedback on draft law reform proposals pertaining to freedom of expression and media freedom which the Prime Minister submitted to the Committee. The Terms of Reference for the Committee fail to require that the committee is independent, made up of individuals of demonstrable integrity and expertise, and that it should have cross-societal support. The lack of transparency and consultation with which the committee has operated since receiving its ToR poses a major concern to its legitimacy. The committee has not met with civil society, media or journalists nor the Caruana Galizia family. It has also refused to participate in conferences relating to media freedom in Malta. While it is understood that the Prime Minister was presented with the Committee’s advice on his draft legislation and that the Committee is continuing its work, the process it has opted to follow lacks transparency.


The Government of Malta has put forward two draft legal proposals for the committee to examine: one to “to amend the Constitution and various other laws to strengthen the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy and to implement various measures for the protection of the media and of journalists”; and another “to provide for the establishment of structures for the protection of democratic society including the protection of journalists, other persons with a role in the media and in non-governmental organisations and persons in public life.” The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and ARTICLE 19 have analysed the proposals for their compliance with Malta’s obligations under international human rights standards and have made important recommendations to strengthen the proposals including to ensure better protection of journalists, the right to information and comprehensive protection for journalists against SLAPPs. 


One year on from the publication of the Public Inquiry report and almost five years since the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, we urge the Government of Malta once again to live up to its international obligations and implement the recommendations of the Board’s report, along with those of the OSCE, Venice and GRECO Commissions, in a transparent manner without further delay and in full consultation with all stakeholders. 

Signed by:

  • ARTICLE 19 Europe
  • Association of European Journalists
  • Committee to Protect Journalists
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • IFEX
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • PEN International
  • Reporters Without Borders

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States, Candidate Countries and Ukraine.

MFRR 3 consortium logos
Photo of court building in Valletta Library

Malta: Tycoon Yorgen Fenech to face trial for murder…

Malta: Tycoon Yorgen Fenech to face trial for murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia

Yorgen Fenech, a Maltese business mogul, has been indicted for the murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017 and will face a trial by jury on a date yet to be set. Fenech faces charges of complicity in murder and criminal association. So far, Vince Muscat has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to the murder earlier this year. Two further alleged hitmen, the brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio will also face trial. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomes Fenech’s indictment and urges the Maltese authorities to finally end impunity and punish everyone involved in this heinous crime.

Almost four years have passed since Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bombing on 16 October 2017 close to her home in northern Malta. Her reporting focused on high-level corruption, including investigations into the Panama Papers in 2016. She was investigating possible corruption in a contract between Fenech and the Maltese government for the building of a power station when she was killed.

While Vince Muscat, one of the hitmen contracted for the murder, has been sentenced to prison, Yorgen Fenech is considered the mastermind behind the murder by Caruana’s family. On 20 November 2019, Fenech was arrested while he was leaving Malta on his private yacht. He has been under arrest since, undergoing a pre-trial compilation of evidence where he pleaded not guilty.

The prosecutors who filed the bill of indictment in court today, Wednesday 18 August, are said to be pushing for a life in prison sentence for complicity in murder and an additional 20 to 30-year sentence for criminal association. Melvin Theuma, the assassination plot’s self-confessed middleman, had previously claimed that Fenech tasked him with organising the murder. The indictment bill reads: “Yorgen Fenech wanted Melvin Theuma to find someone willing to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia.” The date for the trial is yet to be set.

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, the EFJ President, reacted: “Impunity for crimes against journalists must end. We are hopeful that justice will finally be served and we will closely observe the upcoming trials. Too often, it is only hitmen, if even, that get caught, while the masterminds behind the crimes are running free. The Maltese authorities must punish everyone involved in the brutal murder.”

In July 2021, a public inquiry into the assassination found the state of Malta responsible for her death, saying that the state had failed to recognise risks to the reporter’s life and take reasonable steps to avoid them. The inquiry concluded that a culture of impunity was created from the highest echelons of power in Malta, singling out former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for enabling this culture of impunity.

Photo of court building in Valletta Library

Malta: Yorgen Fenech to stand trial for murder of…

Malta: Yorgen Fenech to stand trial for murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia

Prosecutors seek life imprisonment on charges of complicity in murder and criminal association.

Maltese prosecutors today indicted the man accused of ordering the 2017 murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in another important milestone in the fight against impunity and for full justice for her assassination.

On August 18, prosecutors filed the bill of indictment in court seeking life imprisonment for businessman Yorgen Fenech on charges of complicity in murder and criminal association, paving the way for him to stand trial by jury over the 2017 killing.

Prosecutors allege that in April that year, Fenech contacted a middleman about finding someone who could carry out the murder, provided €150,000 in cash to pay the alleged hitmen and ultimately gave the green light for the fatal car bomb to be detonated.

“Today’s indictment of the man alleged to have effectively orchestrated and funded the assassination is a milestone in the fight against impunity and another important step down the road to full justice for Daphne’s murder”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Though a long and at times painful process for her family, we are glad to see the compilation of evidence result in a bill of indictment by prosecutors.

“The role of judging responsibility for this horrific crime will now lie with a Maltese jury. Until then, we continue to demand justice for Daphne’s murder and consequences for the corruption she exposed. She deserves the truth; her family deserve the truth. This case has global significance: impunity for those responsible cannot be allowed to continue.”

Long fight for justice

The long-sought indictment comes 46 months after the assassination in October 2017 and three weeks after an independent public inquiry concluded that the state must bear shared responsibility in fomenting a culture of impunity in which the murder could be carried out.

The business mogul has been in preventive custody since November 2019 after being arrested while allegedly trying to flee Malta aboard his yacht. Considerable evidence against him has since been compiled during a lengthy legal process.

IPI understands it is expected to take around one year for the trial to begin.

The alleged middleman, taxi driver Vincent Muscat, has already been sentenced to 15 years behind bars after changing his plea to guilty in February. The two alleged hitmen, brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, are set to face trial over executing the contract killing. Both maintain their innocence.

The bill of indictment, a formal criminal accusation that a person has committed a crime, came the same day as Fenech’s legal team again requested bail in court. The prosecution contested by presenting WhatsApp messages sent by the accused which they allege demonstrate his intention to flee Malta after the assassination, which Fenech denies. It was also alleged Fenech ordered weapons including grenades and rifles with hundreds of bullets, as well as a gun silencer and 20 grams of potassium sodium cyanide powder.

Maltese media reported that it was understood prosecutors were seeking life imprisonment for the crime of complicity in murder and a further 20 to 30 years for criminal association. The indictment was filed by the Deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia.