Top Journalistic Watchdogs Slam Limitations Of Press Freedoms In Malta Amid Murder Scandal

Top Journalistic Watchdogs Slam Limitations of Press Freedoms in Malta Amid Murder Scandal

Eight leading international journalist organizations, including the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) wrote to the Maltese government on Tuesday

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 03rd December, 2019) Eight leading international journalist organizations, including the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) wrote to the Maltese government on Tuesday, criticizing Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's administration for restricting press coverage and public scrutiny of the investigation into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Alongside the EFJ and IFJ, ARTICLE 19, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Index on Censorship, International Press Institute, Reporters Without Borders and the Scottish PEN attached their signatures to a letter which slammed the Maltese government and called on authorities to ensure that journalists are safe to report the ongoing investigation into Caruana Galizia's murder.

"Over the past few days, we have noted with concern, reports of the attempted confiscation by security officers of a journalist's mobile phone, and the detention of a group of journalists in a room at the Auberge de Castille by unidentified individuals, preventing them from doing their jobs following an emergency Cabinet meeting," the letter read.

The organizations claimed that independent media were critically important at this moment, and journalists must be free from intimidation and threats.

This was crucial, the letter stated, given that the investigation into Caruana Galizia's murder implicates senior Maltese politicians and business leaders for their involvement with businessman Yorgen Fenech, a key suspect in the murder. On Saturday, Fenech, the director of energy-generating company Electrogas, was charged with complicity to murder the journalist.

Over the weekend, a leading Maltese newspaper reported that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was set to resign over the scandal, and on Monday the Times of Malta reported that Members of the European Parliament were in Valletta holding crunch meetings with his administration.

Eight months before her death, Caruana Galizia published findings alleging that Fenech, through a Dubai-based company called 17 Black, had made payments to companies in Panama reportedly owned by ex-chief of staff Keith Schembri and former tourism minister Konrad Mizzi. Both resigned from their posts last week amid the scandal.

Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb outside her Bidnija home in October 2017. The journalist was known for her investigations into various cases of corruption in Malta based on the so-called Panama papers, which revealed illegal finance practices of officials and public figures from various countries.

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