<strong>Our organisations note the <a href=”https://www.gov.mt/en/Government/DOI/Press%20Releases/PublishingImages/Pages/2022/01/11/pr220024/pr220024a.pdf”>announcement</a> by Prime Minister Abela of the appointment of a Committee of Experts to implement the recommendations of the Public Inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The Public Inquiry recommendations include the recognition in law of journalism as the fourth pillar of democracy, and the need to create an enabling environment for independent journalism and measures to address impunity, corruption and the abuse of power.</strong>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>In our meetings and communications with Prime Minister Abela, our organisations </span><a href=”https://www.article19.org/resources/malta-four-years-on-from-assassination-of-daphne-caruana-galizia/”><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>emphasised</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> the need for the full independence of the Commission of Experts, to ensure that the terms of reference of the Commission meet international standards and that the composition of the Commission reflects the expertise in the role of the press in a democracy: knowledge and experience needed to effectively undertake the full scope of responsibilities. </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>We have been concerned by a lack of transparent consultation with civil society and key stakeholders in this process to date. We urge the Prime Minister to engage in meaningful and transparent consultation going forward, in particular through publishing proposed legislation relating to media freedom.</span>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>In our meeting in Valletta in October 2021 concerning the implementation of the Public Inquiry recommendations, we sought assurances from Prime Minister Abela </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>to not amplify a policy of media regulation, to ensure the passage of comprehensive legislation tackling Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs), to improve access to information, to engage in continuous transparent consultation and dialogue with civil society and journalists’ organisations and contribute to changing the culture of how journalists are treated in Malta – including ensuring better protections for journalists to be able to do their jobs safely. We now expect the process led by the Committee of Experts to fulfil these assurances.</span>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Our organisations will closely monitor the work, process and outcomes of the Committee of Experts which should be undertaken free of government influence and in the framework of Malta’s international human rights obligations, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights, the recommendations of the Council of Europe, in particular its </span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Recommendation </span><a href=”https://www.coe.int/en/web/freedom-expression/committee-of-ministers-adopted-texts/-/asset_publisher/aDXmrol0vvsU/content/recommendation-cm-rec-2016-4-of-the-committee-of-ministers-to-member-states-on-the-protection-of-journalism-and-safety-of-journalists-and-other-media-“><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>CM/Rec(2016)4 on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, and the European Commission’s</span><a href=”https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/library/recommendation-protection-safety-and-empowerment-journalists”><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> Recommendation on the protection, safety and empowerment of journalists. </span></a>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>While our offer of technical assistance to the Prime Minister has to date not been taken up, we continue to stand ready to assist the process.</span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”> </span>


<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>ARTICLE 19 </span>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Association of European Journalists (AEJ)</span>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)</span>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)</span>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)</span>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>IFEX</span>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Index on Censorship</span>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>International Press Institute (IPI)</span>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>PEN International </span>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Reporters Without Borders (RSF)</span>