Today, the European Parliament held a plenary session to address the rule of law in Malta and recent developments in the investigation of the assassination of the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Reason for the last-minute addition to the plenary agenda was the arrest of Keith Schembri, former head of cabinet of the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who resigned in January 2020. Schembri and 10 others are accused of several counts of corruption, money laundering and fraud in relation to a number of cases. While it is a hopeful sign that the Maltese Justice System is finally putting the former right hand of Prime Minister Muscat on trial, serious concerns about the rule of law in Malta remain.
More than three years after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, justice has still not been served. I had the honour to know Daphne. Her work to uncover the extent and systemic nature of corruption in Malta was a gift to us all.
With determined European greetings,
You can watch my full speech here: https://twitter.com/sven_giegold/status/1375110360039051264
“Europe has a responsibility for Daphne Caruana Galizia. It is our responsibility to ensure justice for Daphne. Because Daphne fought for our common European values. For the rule of law, for democracy and for tax justice. When Daphne was murdered, the extensive problems around corruption and money laundering that she investigated for so many years did not disappear. On the contrary, these problems are still structural problems in Malta. So, as Europeans we must continue Daphne’s fight. The continuation of her cause means at least two things:
First, we must urge the Maltese institutions to hold every single person accountable that was involved in the murder of Daphne! The same applies to the cases of high level corruption Daphne reported about. And let me be very clear on this: The role of Joseph Muscat must be fully investigated. Justice for Daphne means that every person must be held accountable – no matter how powerful he is!
Second, we have to address the structural problems of corruption and money laundering in Malta. Also on this point, I want to be clear: The system in Malta is still rotten. Some improvements have been made, but the big tidying up still needs to happen. Many of the recommendations of the Venice Commission have not been implemented yet as the Council of Europe rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt demonstrated in his recent follow-up report. In reality corruption and money laundering continue to a wide extent. A culture of impunity for financial crime persists. Parliamentary reform and the effective protection of journalism against law suits is equally outstanding.
We as the European Parliament cannot accept this. And that is why I call on the European Commission to use all possibilities for infringement procedures against Malta.
It is the Commission’s responsibility that Malta complies with our common rules and values. The infringement procedure on the sale of passports can only be a first step. The rule of EU law is also not applied with regard to money laundering, to public procurement, to financial supervision, to proportionate and dissuasive sanctions in environmental law.
So, what Europe can and should do for Daphne today, is to make sure that her work was not in vain. Europe must do all it can to continue her fight. For Daphne, for the people in Malta and for the rule of law in our common European Union. Thank you.”