Cover photo: Omar Camilleri
Speaking to five international press freedom and freedom of expression NGOs that had come to Malta to meet with the government on the eve of the anniversary of Ms Caruana Galizia’s death, Dr Bonnici said that he was willing to review an application for a monument as long as the application was the same as other applications for state monuments.
“We, as a government, have absolutely nothing against an application for a memorial to Daphne Caruana Galizia – we are appealing that one should proceed with the law,” he said during the meeting.
Though the NGOs seemed satisfied with the answer, they called on the government to protect the spontaneous memorial that had become a central point for her supporters, as well as increase national protections for Maltese journalists.
The makeshift memorial has been a point of contention for many Maltese
The memorial has been attacked, blocked off, wiped clean, and put back up by activists countless times over the last year. Previously, Dr Bonnici had called out activists for turning “a national monument” dedicated to the Great Siege, into a monument for Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The government was also questioned about the role of Jason Micallef, the Valletta 2018 chairman
The organisations called for Micallef to resign, citing his distasteful public comments, including a Facebook post that ridiculed Caruana Galizia’s famous last words during a street party.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat responded by listing the government’s efforts to protect and safeguard freedom of the press and freedom of speech in Malta.
The meeting, which lasted one and a half hours, ended with the NGOs saying they were satisfied with the “very positive attitude today and long conversation with us” and that the discussion had “encouraged us to continue the relation with the government until justice is done”.
Members from PEN International, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, the European Press and Media Freedom Centre, and the International Press Institute were present in the meeting.