Fact-checking the Office of the Prime Minister

18 September 2023

OPM spokesman Edward Montebello told Reporters Without Borders (RSF) that Malta has “applied and is applying the measures enlisted by the European Commission” and that it is “determined to adopt legal changes”, when asked what Malta’s Government has done about the European Commission’s Recommendation on the protection, safety and empowerment of journalists which launched on 16 September 2021. The OPM’s claim is, at best, deliberately vague and misleading.

❌ Malta Government has not effectively applied any of “the measures enlisted by the European Commission” almost six years after Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and more than two years after the publication of the report of the public inquiry into her murder.

❌ Malta Government is determined to ignore half the recommendations of the public inquiry. When appointing the ‘Committee of Experts on Media’, the Government’s terms of reference given to the committee excluded all of the public inquiry’s recommendations concerning the rule of law, unexplained wealth, and organised crime. When the Opposition proposed legislation in parliament to address all of the recommendations of the public inquiry, the MPs on the Government side voted against it.

❌ Malta Government is hiding from public view the “legal changes” it is “determined to adopt”, including from the very people those “legal changes” are meant to protect from harm. The bills Malta Government presented in parliament last October need to be replaced as they fail to meet international standards (OSCE RFoM 1, OSCE RFoM 2) and “fail to create the systemic reforms required to foster an enabling environment for free and independent journalism” (MFRR). However, almost a full year later, Malta’s Government has still not publicly committed to publishing a White Paper on legal reforms to open up the process to public consultation.

❌ The Office of the Prime Minister has repeatedly refused to publish the latest report drafted by the ‘Committee of Experts on Media’ (“Rapport tal-Kumitat tal-Esperti dwar is-Settur tal-Midja. Rapport Finali, 4 ta’ Lulju, 2023”) on the adoption of the recommendations resulting from the public inquiry following Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.

❌ Malta Government has not yet redressed the conditions that enabled Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination on 16 October 2017.

❌ Journalists in Malta are still obliged to work in an environment which made the murder of a journalist possible.