06 Dec 2019 Lvl. 2
Alert created on: 29 Nov 2019 n° 141/2019 Malta
Journalists Locked Inside the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta Following a Press Conference
On 28 November 2019, after police investigating the murder of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia questioned key figures in Joseph Muscat’s government, Maltese and foreign journalists spent 6 hours waiting for a cabinet meeting until 3 am, at the Auberge de Castille, the Office of the Prime Minister, in Valletta. At 3 am, a press conference was called and Joseph Muscat announced he would stay in the job until the investigation into the murder was complete. Without any reason or explanation, the journalists, including Paul Caruana Galizia, one of Daphne' sons, were barred from exiting the Ambassadors' Room of Castille after the press conference. They were denied exit from the PM Office by what appears to be a group of security guards not dressed in uniform. It has been reported that this made it possible for Joseph Muscat and the Cabinet to leave the building without having to answer any additional question from journalists. The men refused to provide any explanation as to why they were blocking the door and also failed to address whether they were part of the security team or police force. Two of them have been identified by the journalists present: Marc Gauci, who physically detained Paul Caruana Galizia from exiting the Ambassadors' Room, and Leli I-McKay. The Institute of Maltese Journalists (IGM) strongly condemned this "illegal and undemocratic behaviour" by informal and unaccountable individuals without any known formal relationship with the PM Cabinet, the Castille or Joseph Muscat. IGM joined a number of individual journalists who were subjected to the abusive obstruction and sent a Judicial Protest to the Prime Minister. They also asked the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life to pronounce itself on these facts.
- Malta Today news report: "PN calls for Police Commissioner to take action against those who kept journalists locked at Castille"
- Lovin Malta news report: "Journalists Locked Inside Castille By ‘Security Guards’ Following Joseph Muscat’s Press Conference"
- Statement of the Institute of Maltese Journalists (IGM): "IGM condems treatment of journalists and asks for assurances that this will not repeat itself"
06 Dec 2019
Reply from the Maltese authorities
02 Dec 2019
OSCE Media Freedom Representative concerned by incident with journalists blocked several minutes in Malta Government building.