The European Parliament has approved a scathing resolution regarding Malta with an overwhelming majority.
The move was prompted by what the Parliament said is the country’s failure to bring the murderers of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to justice.
In a resolution passed with 437 votes in favour to 14 against and 66 abstentions, the Parliament highlighted the glacial progress in judicial proceedings regarding Caruana Galizia’s murder six years ago.
It noted that only three low-level convictions have so far been secured and that the actual perpetrators of the assassination have not been convicted.
The document states that investigations into core motives and accompanying court processes should be completed as soon as possible, with “full and continuous involvement of Europol”.
Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela was also reprimanded over what was described as his minimisation of claims about institutionalised corruption in his country. MEPs said such comments “entrench the culture of impunity”.
They called for thorough, swift and independent investigations and prosecutions of all public officials found to be embroiled in corruption, extortion and “trading in influence” – including an alleged vote-buying scheme and driving-licence racket.
A strong result ✅ in favour of the citizens of Malta and Gozo 🇲🇹, and with one voice, the European Parliament condemns the impunity for crime and corruption that has gripped this government.
My work in the EP is guided by my loyalty for our citizens, not a corrupt government. pic.twitter.com/T8cJoPAt7K
— David Casa (@DavidCasaMEP) October 19, 2023
The Parliament also expressed concern about the absence of progress in pursuing alleged crimes Caruana Galizia had investigated, which it said pointed to criminals in the highest governmental echelons.
In addition, it denounced the “institutional failure of law enforcement and justice in Malta”, including the slow progress in proceedings against Pilatus Bank officials and efforts by authorities to suspend them.
The Parliament also decried what it said was the impunity afforded to the former prime minister Joseph Muscat, his chief of staff and other ministers. It highlighted police action against activists, the targeting of journalists and, somewhat oddly, “the restrictive abortion law that has been passed in Malta”.
As well as having been a journalist, Caruana Galizia was an anti-corruption activist who reported on political events in the country and was known internationally for her investigation of the so-called Panama Papers.
The Panama Papers were 11.5 million leaked documents published from April 3, 2016. They detailed financial and attorney-client information of almost 214,500 offshore entities.
Caruana Galizia had alleged there were links between Malta’s online gambling industry and organised crime, hinting at large-scale government corruption, nepotism and money laundering.
Despite harassment and threats, libel actions and other lawsuits, she continued to write questioning articles. She was arrested twice by the Malta Police Force.
She was ultimately assassinated in a car bombing on October 16 in 2017, aged 53.
“The life of journalists is most in danger when there is no justice for the criminality that they have exposed” strong words by @DavidCasaMEP, who during #EPlenary emphasised the need for action on the lack of Maltese Rule of Law. #DaphneCaruanaGalizia ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/aFlVUJ96VO
— EPP Group (@EPPGroup) October 18, 2023