A European Parliament committee on Tuesday voted in favour of a resolution raising rule of law concerns in Malta.

The rule of law resolution about Malta and Slovakia sailed through the civil liberties committee, with 40 votes in favour and seven against.

MEP Sophie in’t Veld, who led the rule of law missions to the two countries, heralded the large majority in the committee expressing “severe criticism” of the Maltese and Slovakian governments for the insufficient action being taken against corruption and crime, and for not finding who ordered the killings of Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuciak.

The resolution will be voted on in plenary next month.

The civil liberties committee called on a full and independent public inquiry into the murder and into the response by the public authorities to it.

'Hate speech and disparagement'

According to the resolution, the Maltese authorities have not yet sought to obtain data stored on Ms Caruana Galizia’s laptops and hard drives from the German federal police. The data was handed over by representatives of the Caruana Galizia family.

The resolution raises concerns about the “hate speech and disparagement” of the memory of Ms Caruana Galizia.

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The committee backed calls on the Maltese government to publicly and unambiguously condemn such acts and urges strong action to be taken against any public officials fuelling hate.

It also called for the immediate publication of the Egrant inquiry report and on Malta to stop selling EU passports.

Final vote to be taken next month

The final resolution that will be voted on by all MEPs next month urges the European Commission to enter into a dialogue with the government in the context of the rule of law framework, a three-stage process whereby Brussels issues an assessment, makes recommendations and monitors the EU country’s follow-up.

Demands are also made on the government to investigate investigation into the Panama Papers revelations and the links between the Dubai-based company 17 Black and the Prime Minister’s top aide, Keith Schembri, as well as Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi.

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PN MEP Roberta Metsola said the massive cross-party majority in the committee was yet another signal to the Prime Minister.

“He would be wrong to ignore it yet again. The sad part is that he will inevitably continue with his partisan attacks instead of taking the action necessary”.

Dr Metsola said the report was not about pushing a partisan agenda but about implementing the guarantees that EU membership gave to the Maltese.

“I hope the Prime Minister now takes heed and sends a clear political signal of his willingness to tackle abuse, publishes the Bugeja inquiry report in full, stops the state-sponsored hate campaign against Daphne Caruana Galizia and ends this association with Henley and Partners.

“He has a chance to do this before the vote in March, but sadly once again I have no doubt that he will choose the interests of Konrad Mizzi over the interests of the people of Malta and Gozo”, she said.

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