Malta: writers join PEN in calling on the European Commission to ensure justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia

Leading writers from Europe and around the world have written to the European Commission today, on the six-month anniversary of the brutal assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s foremost investigative journalist, expressing their grave concern regarding developments in the investigation into her assassination and ongoing reprisals against her family and sources.

Over 250 influential writers, publishers and PEN members including PEN Pinter Prize winners Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie, our President Philippe Sands and Chair of Trustees Maureen Freely, are calling on the European Commission to ensure justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia, and for the protection of journalists and whistleblowers in Malta.

Read the full letter and add your support here

Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family said:

European culture and values are our best protection against hatred and oppression. And Daphne fought for these values until she no longer could. Her death has left hundreds of thousands voiceless, while the state-appointed leader of a European cultural event in Malta slanders Daphne’s legacy and ridicules people’s calls for justice. We hope—and it’s clear this is a hope shared by many in Europe—that the European Commission will help fill the vacuum Daphne left and remind the Maltese government that there are lines such as this that must never be crossed.

In particular, the letter raises profound concerns regarding allegations of shameful behavior of the management of Valletta 2018, the European Capital of Culture, in relation to her case. This programme is overseen by the European Commission’s Creative Europe.

Jennifer Clement, President of PEN International.

The assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia was ordered in direct response to her journalistic work in exposing rampant government corruption at the heart of the EU. Since her death, the Maltese authorities have not attempted to investigate the crimes she uncovered and appear deeply reluctant to seek justice for her killing.

The open letter also restates PEN’s broader fears relating to the ongoing investigation by the Maltese authorities into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, which we believe does not meet the standards of independence, impartiality and effectiveness required under international human rights law.

Even after her assassination, senior government officials, including the Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, are insisting on trying thirty-four libel cases against her, which have now been assumed by her family. In addition to these cases, the Prime Minister is taking a further libel case against Caruana Galizia’s son, Matthew Caruana Galizia, himself a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist. PEN believes that these proceedings are in direct reprisal for his mother’s work in investigating corruption within the current Maltese government. The Prime Minister is currently compelling Matthew to return to Malta to stand trial, despite independent security experts advising him to remain outside Malta due to substantial threats to his life there.

PEN has a long history of supporting writers at risk and campaigning for the protection of freedom of expression and recently submitted a joint report to the United Nations on the situation of freedom of expression in Malta. PEN calls on the Maltese authorities to respect and protect freedom of expression, journalists and whistleblowers in line with international standards.

TAKE ACTION

Spread the word

Please share this letter with friends and colleagues who might be interested in adding their support and on social media with the hashtag #DaphneCaruanaGalizia

Join the London vigil

1-2pm, Monday 16 April
Malta House, 36-38 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 0LE

On 16 April, we will be holding a vigil at Malta House in London to mark six months since Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder and to continue calls for justice. The vigil is co-sponsored by English PEN, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Index on Censorship, Il-Kenniesa, PEN International and ARTICLE 19.

Please join us if you can and help spread the word.

Facebook event page

The Shame of Valletta 2018, European Capital of Culture

Dear President Juncker,
Dear Commissioner Timmermans,
Dear Mr Magnier, Director of Creative Europe,
CC/ Commissioner Vella,

We write to you on the six-month anniversary of the brutal assassination of our colleague, Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s foremost investigative journalist, to express our profound concern with developments in Malta in the context of the investigation into her assassination, and in particular regarding the behaviour of the management of Valletta 2018, the European Capital of Culture.

The assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia was ordered in direct response to her journalistic work in exposing rampant government corruption at the heart of the EU. Since her death, we have witnessed with horror the repeated and aggressive destruction of the memorial to Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta, which was created in response to this horrific event. The Maltese authorities have not attempted to protect this memorial. In particular, we are outraged by the comments of Jason Micallef, Chairman of the Valletta 2018 Foundation, and as such the Capital of Culture’s official representative in Malta. Since her assassination, Micallef has repeatedly and publicly attacked and ridiculed Daphne Caruana Galizia on social media, ordered the removal of banners calling for justice for her death and called for her temporary memorial to be cleared. This is far from appropriate behaviour for an official designated to represent the European Capital of Culture, and in fact serves to further the interests of those trying to prevent an effective and impartial investigation into Caruana Galizia’s death.

Creative Europe’s mandate is the support and promotion of culture and media in the region. European culture includes the freedom to criticise, satirise and investigate those in power. The role of the Chairman of the European Capital of Culture should be to safeguard this right, not to threaten it. We believe this behaviour completely demeans the role and has profound implications for the integrity of the programme as a whole. There can be no tolerance for the ridiculing of the assassination of a journalist in the heart of the EU, especially from the very authorities entrusted to promote the EU’s media and culture. We therefore urge you to immediately investigate these allegations against Jason Micallef. If found to be true, we urge you to call for his resignation and for the appointment of a qualified individual who demonstrates the requisite integrity for this role.

Further to these specific concerns relating to Valletta 2018, we wish to restate our broader fears relating to the ongoing investigation by the Maltese Authorities into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, which we believe does not meet the standards of independence, impartiality and effectiveness required under international human rights law. The very same individuals Caruana Galizia was investigating remain in charge of securing justice in her case, despite a judicial challenge in Malta’s constitutional court from her family, who has now been completely shut out of the assassination investigation. We therefore welcome the initiative of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe, which is taking the extraordinary step of sending a special rapporteur to scrutinise the investigation.

It is also of enormous concern to us that, even after her assassination, senior government officials, including the Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, are insisting on trying thirty-four libel cases against her, which have now been assumed by her family. In addition to these cases, the Prime Minister is taking a further libel case against Caruana Galizia’s son, Matthew, himself a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist. We have reason to believe that these proceedings are in direct reprisal for his mother’s work in investigating corruption within the current Maltese government. The Prime Minister is currently compelling Matthew to return to Malta to stand trial, despite independent security experts advising Matthew to remain outside Malta due to substantial threats to his life there.

Whistle-blower Maria Efimova was one of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sources on corruption within the disgraced Malta-based Pilatus Bank. The Maltese authorities filed a European Arrest Warrant for Efimova after she was forced to flee to Greece with her family. On 12 April, a Greek court refused Malta’s request to extradite Efimova on the grounds that the charges brought by the Maltese authorities against her are ‘vague’. We welcome this highly unusual decision, one of the first of its kind within the EU. Despite this, the Maltese authorities have not dropped the charges against Efimova. We believe the charges against Efimova to be purely political and are deeply concerned about both her safety and the independence of the legal process she would face should she return to Malta.

We urge you to take a stand in support of calls for justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia and for the protection of journalists and whistleblowers in Malta.

We look forward to your response outlining the steps you will now take relating to our concerns.

Sincerely,

For a full list of signatories, visit PEN International.

Please add your support here

TAKE ACTION

Spread the word

Please share this letter with friends and colleagues who might be interested in adding their support and on social media with the hashtag #DaphneCaruanaGalizia

Join the London vigil

1-2pm, Monday 16 April
Malta House, 36-38 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 0LE

On 16 April, we will be holding a vigil at Malta House in London to mark six months since Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder and to continue calls for justice. The vigil is co-sponsored by English PEN, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Index on Censorship, Il-Kenniesa, PEN International and ARTICLE 19.

Please join us if you can and help spread the word.

Facebook event page

A journalist killed: The pursuit of justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia, six months on

6 – 7pm, Monday 16 April
Committee Room 17, House of Commons

Join us for a discussion on Daphne Caruana Galizia’s case, the climate that allowed for her murder, and what it means for the UK and broader Europe at the House of Commons.

Speakers:

Paul Caruana Galizia, son of Daphne Caruana Galizia
Rebecca Vincent, UK Bureau Director for Reporters Without Borders
Maggie Murphy, Senior Global Advocacy Manager for Transparency International
Moderated by Tom Brake MP

RSVP to ukevents@rsf.org

Co-sponsored by:

ARTICLE 19
Committee to Protect Journalists
English PEN
European Federation of Journalists
Index on Censorship
PEN International
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Transparency International

Support English PEN with the World Sci-Fi StoryBundle

English PEN is pleased to be partnering with StoryBundle and guest curator Lavie Tidhar on The World SF Bundle, offered throughout April.

StoryBundle is a way for independent publishers and authors to showcase their work. The site takes handful of e-books and groups them together to offer as a bundle. Offers are available for a limited time only.

This month, the bundle offered is a collection of science fiction from around the world, curated by Lavie Tidhar. Writing on the StoryBundle blog, Lavie introduces the collection:

While translation continues to pose a significant barrier, many new enthusiasts have contributed to surmounting the problem. In this bundle we have a comprehensive anthology of translated Spanish speculative fiction, Castles in Spain, as well as a wonderful novel from Japan, A Small Charred Face, made possible through the Haikasoru imprint dedicated to translated Japanese speculative fiction. In addition, we are offering all four of the current Apex Book of World SF anthologies, in which you may encounter many writers new to you, many of them translated from the original languages.

Yet another solution to the translation problem came with the emergence of new writers proficient in more than one language. Here, for instance, we have the wonderfully atmospheric Servant of the Underworld, the first novel by French author Aliette de Bodard, who writes in English. Russian author Ekaterina Sedia does the same, here with her debut novel The Secret History of Moscow, which is impossible not to devour. Malaysian Zen Cho’s debut collection, Spirits Abroad, justly won the Crawford Award, while fellow Malaysian Cassandra Khaw’s Rupert Wong: Cannibal Chef is a delightful, bloodied romp through a magical Kuala Lumpur.

I was lucky enough to write the original introduction to Mexican author Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s masterful Prime Meridian, a thought-provoking work of science fiction set in Mexico City, already garnering much attention. And I got to originally blurb South African author Nick Wood’s Azanian Bridges, an intriguing take on alternate history and Apartheid.

This project fits perfectly with English PEN’s mission to promote ‘literature across frontiers’ and we are grateful to Lavie for nominating PEN as the charity beneficiary.

Visit the StoryBundle website

The initial titles in the World SF Bundle are:

  • The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia
  • Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard
  • The Apex Book of World SF: Vol. 4 edited by Mahvesh Murad
  • A Small Charred Face by Kazuki Sakuraba

And for an additional donation, supporters get six more titles:

  • The Apex Book of World SF: Vol. 1-3 edited by Lavie Tidhar
  • Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho
  • Prime Meridian by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef by Cassandra Khaw
  • Castles in Spain edited by Mariano Villarreal
  • Azanian Bridges by Nick Wood

 

Bahrain: NGOs call for release of human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja on seventh anniversary of his arrest

Seven years ago this month, renowned human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja was dragged from his home in Bahrain, tortured, tried in a military court, and sentenced to life in prison for his peaceful role in 2011 protests.

Today, 5 April, on Al-Khawaja’s 57th birthday, the undersigned human rights organisations call for his immediate release and for all human rights defenders jailed in Bahrain to be freed.

On Monday 9 April, human rights organisations, friends, and supporters will join two of Al-Khawaja’s daughters, Zainab and Maryam Al-Khawaja, for two events in London:

Protest at the Bahraini Embassy in London for Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja
● 1pm, 9 April 2018
● 30 Belgrave Square, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 8QB
More details
Front Line Defenders has been organising monthly protests at the Embassy since January 2018

Conversation with Zainab and Maryam Al-Khawaja
● 6.30pm, 9 April 2018
● Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA
● For more details and to reserve your free place visit the Free Word website.
Hosted by Front Line Defenders and ARTICLE 19

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is an internationally-known Bahraini-Danish human rights defender who is the founder and former President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), established in 2002, and a Founding Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), established in 2011. He was Middle East and North Africa Protection Coordinator for Front Line Defenders until February 2011, when he resigned during the popular movement in Bahrain.

He was violently arrested on 9 April 2011 and charged in connection with his peaceful human rights activities. This was followed by brutal torture, resulting in a broken jaw and requiring several operations, then finally by an unfair trial grossly violating international standards for fair trials and due process. He undertook a number of hunger strikes to protest torture and poor prison conditions.

Al-Khawaja is one of a group of 13 human rights defenders and political activists (the Bahrain 13) sentenced to lengthy prison terms solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Following a grossly unfair trial, Al-Khawaja was sentenced by the National Safety court (a military court) on 22 June 2012 to life in prison, along with seven other members of the Bahrain 13. As the sentence was being pronounced, Al-Khawaja raised his fist saying: ‘We will continue on the path of peaceful resistance.’

The current situation in Bahrain is dire. The vast majority of human rights defenders are in jail, in exile, under travel ban, or enduring severe threats and intimidation as a result of their peaceful work. Dozens have been abused and tortured. International NGOs and journalists have been prevented from visiting Bahrain to document the government’s ongoing human rights abuses.

At the same time, Bahrain continues to host events such as the Formula One 2018 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix from 6 to 8 April, during which time any protests are sure to be met with reprisals.

Just two days ahead of the Formula One, on 4 April 2018 at 2am, Lars Aslan Rasmussen, a Danish Member of Parliament, and Brian Dooley, GCHR Advisory Board member, arrived in Bahrain in an attempt to visit Al-Khawaja in prison. They were refused entry on the basis that they posed a ‘security risk’ and deported.

We the undersigned call on the authorities in Bahrain to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally free Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and all other human rights defenders from prison;
2. Provide proper access to medical care and sanitary conditions in prison;
3. Allow Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and all prisoners proper access to families;
4. Allow international NGOs and journalists free access to Bahrain, including for the purposes of visiting detained human rights defenders; and
5. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

Signed by:

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
Article 19
Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)
Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
English PEN
European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)
FIDH, under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Front Line Defenders
Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
IFEX
Index on Censorship
PEN International
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), under the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

TAKE ACTION

Show your support for Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

Spread the word
● Join the call for Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja’s release  – share this piece with friends and colleagues and on social media: #FreeAbdulhadi

Protest at the Bahraini Embassy in London for Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja
● 1pm, 9 April 2018
● 30 Belgrave Square, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 8QB
● More details
Front Line Defenders has been organising monthly protests at the Embassy since January 2018

Conversation with Zainab and Maryam Al-Khawaja
● 6.30pm, 9 April 2018
● Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA
● For more details and to reserve your free place visit the Free Word website.
Hosted by Front Line Defenders and ARTICLE 19

 

Turkey: freedom of expression in jeopardy

English PEN are proud to launch our latest report ‘Turkey: freedom of expression in jeopardy. Violations of the rights of authors, publishers and academics under the State of Emergency’.

Researched and written by leading experts in the field and internationally recognised advocates for freedom of expression in Turkey, Dr Yaman Akdeniz (professor of law, Istanbul Bilgi University) and Dr Kerem Altiparmak (assistant professor of law at Ankara University), the report examines the impact of the Turkish government’s response to the failed coup on the publishing community and academia.

Dr Akdeniz joined Maureen Freely, Chair of Trustees, English PEN in London for the launch of the report, in partnership with the Turkish Publishers Association.

Read the report (English)

Read the report (Turkish)

English version translated by Ayşegül Bahcıvan.

Executive Summary

This report, written for English PEN by academics Yaman Akdeniz & Kerem Altıparmak, presents an overview of the current situation of freedom of expression in Turkey and engages in a critical evaluation of violations of rights against writers, publishers, academics and academic institutions.

Prior to the failed coup attempt in July 2016, criminal investigations and prosecutions were frequently used to silence dissent along with other restrictive measures. While addressing the historical suppression of freedom of expression in Turkey, the report focuses on the effects of the State of Emergency introduced in the wake of the coup and the silencing and chilling effect that this has had on many writers, publishers and academics in both their professional and private lives.

The state of freedom of expression in Turkey

Turkey has always been one of the most restrictive countries among Council of Europe member states in terms of media freedom and freedom of expression:

  • Of 20,657 judgments issued by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) between 1959 and 2017, 3,386 judgments (16%) involve Turkey as a respondent State, ranking it first in the list of all member States.
  • Turkey also ranks first in terms of the number of judgments in which a violation was found with a total of 2,988 judgments
  • Of the total of 700 judgments in which the ECtHR has found a violation of freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), Turkey easily ranks first with 281 judgments and is followed by Russia with 39, France with 37 and Austria with 35 as of the end of 2017.

Suppression of freedom of expression

Physical attacks and torture, rife in the 1980s and 1990s, have been replaced by a more subtle approach in recent times, one which has been described as ‘less brutal but more effective’.

These issues have been compounded in the wake of the attempted coup and recourse to anti-terrorism legislation in particular has become even more pervasive. The increase in the number of people accused following the coup attempt is startling.

  • Between 2010 and 2017 a total of 94,396 cases were filed in connection with the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) on terror propaganda. Both the number of investigations and criminal cases have significantly increased following the declaration of State of Emergency.
  • The nature of the indictments has also changed. New cases after state of emergency have been initiated under provisions relating to membership to terrorist organisation rather than the ones relating to terror propaganda.
  • In 2016, 155,014 new investigations were launched under article 314 with regard to membership to a criminal organisation. This number is approximately the same (158,993) for the total of previous five years (2011-2015).

Judiciary in Turkey

The judiciary has become much more politicised, reducing the role and effectiveness of the legal system as a protector of freedom of expression. Although the independence of the judiciary has been in question for some time, and particularly following the Gezi Park protests of 2013, the situation has become more serious in the wake of the failed coup attempt of 15 July 2016.

A total of 4140 judges and prosecutors were dismissed from office including 333 judges and two prosecutors of the Court of Cassation, 276 members of the Council of State, two chief public prosecutors, 1280 public prosecutors, 2346 criminal and civil court judges and two members of the Constitutional Court. Of these, 2,200 were arrested, many of whom are still in prison.

After 2017, judiciary independence was further eroded by changes made to appointments to the new Council of Judges and Prosecutors which have meant that, in one way or another, all of its members are chosen by the government. As a result, the ability of judges to pass independent judgements is highly questionable.

The State of Emergency

The State of Emergency measures introduced in 2016 can be examined under two general categories:

  • Emergency Decrees resulting in lasting effects for individuals: dismissal of public officials; closure of unions, federations, confederations, private health institutions, private educational institutions, universities; closure of private radio and television outlets, newspapers and magazines, news agencies, publishing houses and distributors; closure of associations and foundations.
  • Legal amendments to various laws affecting rights safeguarded under the ECHR and the ICCPR, including but not limited to the Law on Criminal Procedure, Law on Municipalities, the Law on Elections, the Law on Higher Education, the Law on Civil Servants, the Law on Citizenship, and the Law on the Protection of Personal Information.

As a result of emergency decrees:

  • 116,250 people were dismissed from public service. Their passports have been revoked, preventing them from leaving the country, and it has become impossible for them to find a job in the country through a series of de jure and de facto measures.
  • 140 media organisations including television, radio and periodicals, and 30 publishing houses were shut down. 18 periodicals were also closed.
  • Individuals working in such organisations have been labelled as employees of closed private institutions and therefore share a fate similar to those dismissed from public service. It is estimated that at least 2,500 media workers have become unemployed as a result of these measures. The number of people subject to long-term unemployment due to such measures is unknown.

Violations against writers and publishers

The rise of criminal cases involving freedom of expression inevitably has direct consequences for writers and publishers. The research conducted produced a list of 80 writers. Of the 80 authors listed in this report, only three are being tried for the books they have written. A large majority of the remaining 77 authors are being prosecuted for being a member of a terrorist organisation or for having affiliations or links with such organisations due to their newspaper articles or social media posts.

Violations against academics

There has been an even more alarming increase in the number of academics being dismissed from several universities.

  • By the end of 2017, 5,822 academics had been dismissed from 118 public universities
  • Like writers, many academics have also been prosecuted under criminal law. In addition to the administrative proceedings initiated at universities, Chief Public Prosecutors in many provinces launched criminal investigations against Academics for Peace who signed a peace petition criticising the state violence in South East Turkey. Some academics were taken into police custody and questioned within the scope of these investigations for ‘disseminating terrorist propaganda’ or denigrating the Turkish nation, the Republic of Turkey, the institutions and bodies of the State’.

Violations against writers and academics in light of constitutional safeguards

Both the Turkish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights incorporate safeguards for freedom of expression.  The actions outlined in this report at therefore arguably in contravention of:

  • Article 26 of the Constitution, the freedom to hold opinions and express them and impart and disseminate ideas and opinions
  • Article 28 of the Constitution, the press should not be censored
  • Article 29 the right to publish periodicals and non periodicals.
  • Article 30 on the protection of printing facilities
  • Article 27 on the freedom of science and the arts
  • Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights

Conclusion

It has not been possible to find solutions to such structural problems through individual applications to the ECtHR. Of the tens of thousands of cases involving freedom of expression, as shown by the statistical data, a couple of dozen judgments on freedom of expression issued each year by the ECtHR have no effect on government practices.

For this reason, unless mechanisms are developed and used to address the lack of political will which is the main obstacle in effectively applying the standards of freedom of expression, it will not be possible to solve the structural problems and create a free legal system for writers in Turkey.

Read the report (English)

Read the report (Turkish)