The public inquiry into the murder of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia recently announced by the Maltese authorities “clearly does not meet the Assembly’s expectations” as currently constituted, according to an information note by PACE rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt (Netherlands, EPP/CD), endorsed by the Assembly’s Legal Affairs Committee.
The committee, in its statement, invited the Maltese authorities to address a series of issues with the inquiry’s terms of reference and membership “as a matter of urgency”.
In the note, which analyses the terms of reference of the inquiry and its membership, Mr Omtzigt said “serious concerns” had already been expressed about the independence and impartiality of the three members appointed to carry out the inquiry. The composition of the Board of Inquiry “must be such as to dispel any reasonable criticism of its actual or apparent independence and impartiality,” he added.
Mr Omtzigt also said one of the grounds for holding hearings in camera was “vaguely worded and potentially extremely broad”, pointing out that the circumstances in which public access to the inquiry may be restricted “should be specified exhaustively and restrictively”.
Moreover, Ms Caruana Galizia’s family should “enjoy a privileged position” in the inquiry, with the power to present procedural motions, question witnesses and make submissions.
“The inquiry’s report to the Prime Minister must of course be published immediately and in full. The credibility and status of the inquiry would be further enhanced were the Maltese government to commit itself to responding promptly to any recommendations contained in the final report.”