The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović has published her report on her visit to Malta in October 2021. It contains recommendations for safeguarding media freedom and ensuring the safety of journalists, protecting the lives and dignity of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants and strengthening women’s rights.
“The authorities must continue their investigations to identify everyone involved in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and ensure that those responsible are held accountable and that justice is done.” The Commissioner recommends a co-ordinated response to threats and attacks against journalists, including online, and increased awareness-raising among law enforcement agents.
Regarding asylum and migration, the Commissioner stresses the need to step up Malta’s capacities and ensure effective co-ordination of search and rescue operations.
“Disagreements with other member states about disembarkation responsibilities should never be allowed to put human rights – including the right to life – at risk or exempt the authorities from their non-refoulement obligations.”
To enhance women’s rights and gender equality, the Commissioner recommends further reforms, including the adoption of the Equality Act and the Human Rights and Equality Commission Act without delay. Malta’s blanket ban on abortion puts women’s right to health at serious risk. It also endangers other rights including their right to life, to be free from torture and ill-treatment and from discrimination, and their right to privacy. “It is time for the authorities to repeal provisions criminalising abortion, develop comprehensive regulation of women’s access to legal and safe abortion and improve the availability of sexual and reproductive health services.”