A group of press freedom organisations have demanded that an independent public inquiry be set up to look into whether journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder could have been avoided.

The group, in Malta on an international freedom of expression mission, met with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Monday, urging him to set up the judicial inquiry to put concerns to rest.

“We are in Malta because of the lack of justice for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia,” the group said, adding that an inquiry would assure that what happened to the late journalist could not happen to others.

Read: No need for public inquiry, Muscat says

Dr Muscat was quick to address their calls for an inquiry, repeating his previously stated position that such an inquiry would only be considered after ongoing police and magisterial investigations were concluded.

Police investigations, he said, were going ahead "full throttle", however he would not comment further for fear of jeopardising ongoing police work. 

Meanwhile, the mission also raised concerns about the way Ms Caruana Galizia had been treated throughout her life.

“The way Daphne has been treated is a disgrace. In the course of her 30 years as a journalist she received countless threats, her home was set on fire, her family dogs were killed, her face was plastered on derogatory billboards, she faced misogynistic attacks… let us stop here as the threats and violence she was subject to were innumerable yet tolerated, and helped create an environment in which she could be murdered with impunity,” the mission told Dr Muscat.

They also called for the removal of Valletta 2018 chairman Jason Micallef, who they said had not been held accountable for the repeated degradation of Ms Caruana Galizia after her death.

Read: Sack Jason Micallef as V18 chairman now, 72 MEPs demand

The group said they had never witnessed such ongoing vilification campaigns by the authorities against a journalist, “both before and after her death”.

“Malta, a democracy and a member state of the European Union and the Council of Europe, is not living up to its obligations to guarantee and safeguard freedom of expression as required by the European Convention on Human Rights. Malta’s international image has been tarnished. We never thought we would need to come to Malta on an international mission to ask the government to protect journalists,” the group said.

The mission was made up of representatives from the committee to Protect Journalists, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, the International Press institute, Pen International, and Reporters Without Borders.

On his part, Dr Muscat said police investigators and a well respected magistrate both had absolute freedom to go wherever the evidence takes them.

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