A delegation of MEPs that visited Malta on a mission into the rule of law on the island have said they are “deeply concerned that the delayed resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat poses a risk, real or perceived, to the integrity of the murder investigation.”
Saying they remained “unconvinced” that Muscat had acted judiciously in the last few weeks, and that his delayed resignation puts the integrity of the investigation at risk.
“We came to Malta with deep concerns, and we leave not reassured.” – MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld.
This is the third such delegation to visit Malta to inquire into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The delegation, led by Sophie in ‘t Veld and including Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, met key individuals, including Joseph Muscat and other government members, the police, judicial authorities, the opposition, representatives of civil society and journalists, as well as members of the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia, amongst others.
Following the meetings, the MEPs have now urged the European Commission to immediately engage in a rule of law dialogue with Malta.
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— EP Audiovisual (@europarlAV) December 5, 2019
While the delegation “cautiously welcomed” police progress in the investigation, they were concerned about the lack of inquiry into related cases of money laundering and corruption, particularly those involving Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.
“The rule of law under pressure, impunity for crimes, widespread corruption, journalists intimidated and harassed, the right of assembly thwarted and politics descended into toxic bi-partisanism,” in ‘t Veld said.
“Malta is a part of Europe; what affects Malta, affects Europe.”
They called on closer scrutiny among member states to ensure citizens can benefit from have a fair and transparent government.
“Europe must monitor this situation closely, and press for far-reaching constitutional reforms. We stand by the people of Malta, who deserve a clean government and officials with integrity,” they said.
Finally, MEPs noted that a reform process is underway addressing amongst other things, the controversial constitutional role of the Attorney General and the current system of judicial appointments. However, they underlined that persistent threats to the rule of law in Malta cannot be precluded. In this regard, MEPs welcomed Commission Vice-President Jourová’s comments, stating that Malta’s failure to enact judicial reforms could serve as a basis for triggering an Article 7 procedure. They called on the European Commission to start a dialogue with Malta in the rule of law framework immediately.