Daphne remembered, five years on

Picture shows CJA Executive Committee member William Horsley with Daphne family lawyer Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC (pictured right) and others at the vigil.

Media rights campaigners and members of the Maltese community in London held a vigil at St John’s Church in Waterloo, on October 16, to honour the memory of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the campaigning Maltese journalist murdered on that day five years ago. The vigil was part of the Daphne Festival, linked with commemorations in Malta.

Daphne was one of many journalists across the world who have faced threats, torture, imprisonment and death for investigating organised crime and political corruption. As well as honouring her, the festival was intended to look at how her investigations have lived on, and draw attention to the threats faced by journalists, especially females.

“It’s creating awareness and generating support under the umbrella of a festival. It will draw attention to Daphne’s case – but also a problem of which it is an emblem,” Corinne Vella, Daphne’s sister, told the Lovin Malta online forum.

“When a journalist is killed because of their work, first you kill the journalist, then you kill the story, then you kill the reputation. Basically, you bury the truth. So pushing back against attempts to silence the voice, to destroy the person’s work, reputation and memory is very, very important.”

Invigoration of civil society

Daphne’s family lawyer, Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC, spoke of the aftermath of her murder.

“We have seen resignations in Malta, including the resignation of a Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, in 2019. Arrests and criminal charges, including against businessman Yorgen Fenech, indicted in 2019 for alleged complicity in Daphne’s killing, and conspiracy to commit murder. A 15-year-sentence for Vincent Muscat, a member of the gang that planted the bomb, after changing his plea and providing evidence for the prosecution; and on Friday, after years of delays and attempts to derail the proceedings, we finally saw the two Degiorgio brothers each sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment after admitting to Daphne’s murder on the first day of their trial,” she said.

“And we have seen an innovative public inquiry take place in Malta, and a damning, detailed 437 page report published in August 2021,finding that the Maltese State should shoulder responsibility for Daphne’s death. We have also seen an invigoration of civil society in Malta, a new determination to secure much-needed change.

“Much has been achieved. But it is nowhere near enough. We demand full justice – bringing to account through the criminal justice system not only the footsoldiers, but also the masterminds; all those who plotted; all those who obstructed justice. And wider accountability for those who allowed corruption and impunity to fester and grow.”

Represented at the festrival, along with the CJA, were press freedom organisations from around the world, including Reporters without Borders), Index on Censorship, Women in Journalism, PEN International and The Frontline Club, as well as democracy and human rights organisations such as Repubblika, Article 19 and The Foreign Policy Centre.