The CJA joined leading international press freedom organisations in a vigil outside the Maltese High Commission in London, pictured, on October 15, the eve of the 4th anniversary of the murder of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who campaigned against government corruption. They issued a joint demand for the Maltese government to deliver justice over Daphne’s death without further obstruction or delays, and to eradicate the “culture of impunity” that led to her assassination.
So far, eight men have either admitted to or been charged with complicity to kill her.
Daphne was killed when a car bomb detonated as she drove away from her home in Bidnija. She was 53 years old. The government has been accused of obstructing the path to justice for her and her family, including by delaying a long-awaited public inquiry into her assassination. Many civil defamation lawsuits continued against her posthumously, while human rights defenders and journalists campaigning on her case have been subjected to serious pressure, harassment and acts of reprisal.
The vigil was co-sponsored by the Maltese community in London, ARTICLE 19, the Association of European Journalists, the CJA, Index on Censorship, PEN International, Reporters Without Borders, and Transparency International-UK
On 29 July 2021, a landmark public inquiry into Daphne’s murder published its conclusions. It found that ‘the State has to shoulder responsibility for the assassination because it created an atmosphere of impunity, generated from the highest levels in the heart of the administration of the Office of the Prime Minister and like an octopus spread to other entities like regulatory institutions and the police, leading to the collapse of the rule of law.’
Organisers of the vigil called on the Maltese authorities to accept the Board of Inquiry’s detailed recommendations, to publish a plan of action on how they will be implemented and to ensure better protection of journalists. Their statement reads:
“Today marks four years since the brutal murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in a car bomb attack in Malta that shook the world. Our thoughts are with Caruana Galizia’s family, friends, colleagues, and others still fighting for justice. It is deeply unsettling to reiterate, four years on, our call for justice for this heinous attack as impunity continues to fester.
“Killed for her journalism”
“While modest progress has been made in some areas, full accountability for Caruana Galizia’s murder remains elusive. The fight against impunity only ends when all those responsible have been prosecuted to the full extent of the law: assassins, intermediaries and masterminds must all face the court without further delay. Delayed justice only serves to embolden those who wish to use violence to silence critical reporting in Malta and beyond.
“Justice for Caruana Galizia, however, goes beyond convicting the criminals who perpetrated her murder. She was killed for her journalism, which exposed systematic corruption and abuse of power among the country’s highest levels of government and business. She had faced numerous death threats and, at the time of her death, was the target of 47 different defamation cases, or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, designed to intimidate and bankrupt her into silence. She was forced to operate in a toxic online environment stoked by the country’s leading political figures and their army of internet trolls. Unfortunately, her murder has not put an end to these abusive practices targeting Maltese journalists and media workers.
“The landmark public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the murder found that “the State has to shoulder responsibility for the assassination because it created an atmosphere of impunity, generated from the highest levels in the heart of the administration of the Office of the Prime Minister and like an octopus spread to other entities like regulatory institutions and the police, leading to the collapse of the rule of law.” The Board of Inquiry’s powerful report, compiled in the face of unacceptable political pressure that unsuccessfully attempted to hinder its efficacy and independence, represents an essential milestone in the fight for truth and accountability. Now, we call for the immediate establishment of an independent commission of experts so that the inquiry’s recommendations for reform are implemented in a non-partisan and speedy manner.
“Finally, doing right by Caruana Galizia also means holding up her work. “Daphne was right” should be a rallying cry for consequences to be faced by those whose corruption and wrongdoing she exposed.
“Caruana Galizia left us a legacy of investigative reporting of the highest quality. As we mourn the loss of her life, let’s also remember and celebrate her journalism.”
“Don’t give in”
To mark the anniversary of Daphne’s death there was also a statement from her family. They refer simply to her own words describing her defiance in the face of the struggles and dangers that surrounded her campaigning journalism:
“Four years after her assassination Daphne’s words still ring true:
I know that what I am writing will not make a difference, but I have to write it because somebody has to write. We have to document what’s happening.
Rather than giving into anger or disillusionment it is better, and more consoling, to know that we have done our best to avert the triumph of the undeserving.
For years I have been a target of sustained assaults, and not just me but also my sons and other members of my family, across all the media, broadcast, print, the internet, official and unofficial.
I will say this to my fellow journalists, the worst thing you can do when you see another journalist under assault by the government or the opposition is to sink your head below the parapet hoping that the same thing will not happen to you. The solution is not to avoid becoming inconvenient but to fight back. What is the point of having freedom of speech if you can’t use it to say that the people who govern you are crooks?
Never give into authority just because it is authority. If a law is in itself illegal, if it violates fundamental principles of human rights and liberties, then you are not obliged to obey it – on the contrary it is your duty not to do so.
We can no longer say that it is corrupt politicians who have brought our society to this point, for it can no longer be denied that those corrupt politicians are a reflection of society.
It’s true that life is unfair and that much of it can’t be helped, but where I can do anything to avoid unfairness, or to set it straight, then I will. I cannot bear the thought of injustice, still less the reality of it.
It’s the nature of my personality to think in terms of do your worst, until the only option left to you is to take out a contract on my life.
They would gladly see me dead, which appears to be the only way that I will shut up.“