World Press Freedom Day: Malta urgently needs reform to ensure press freedom

03 May 2023

Malta’s collapse on the 2023 RSF World Press Freedom Index shows the urgent need for reforms by the Maltese State to ensure journalists can work freely and safely. Malta now ranks 84th, the penultimate position in Europe, out of a total of 180 countries worldwide, down from 45 in 2013.

Since Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination on 16 October 2017, Malta’s ranking on the World Press Freedom Index has declined sharply. The slight improvement in the 2022 Index was largely due to the conclusion of the State-appointed public inquiry which found the Maltese State must bear responsibility for Daphne’s death.

Since the publication of the Public Inquiry report in July 2021, Malta has failed to act on the historic opportunity to transform itself from the country known for the bomb blast that took Daphne’s life into a country recognised for its response to that trauma.

The objectives and importance of the Public Inquiry recommendations are clear: a truly free and independent press is essential to a functioning democracy and it must be robustly supported and protected.

We expect the Maltese State to implement the conclusions of the report holistically so that lessons learned from Daphne’s murder may yet save the lives of others. Measures to address impunity, corruption and abuse of power must therefore also be an integral part of the reform.

In the spirit of transparency which we hope will characterise reforms, in February this year we published a document setting out our understanding of what an effective reform process and outcome should look like. The document identifies critical parameters for the reform process and outcome, based on the information and knowledge available to us at the time of writing.