Public Inquiry Conclusions: Malta bears responsibility for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia
On July 29 2021, the findings of a public inquiry report into whether the Maltese state bears responsibility for the circumstances leading to the death of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, were presented to the government, specifically to the office of the Prime Minister. The report is clear in stating that the Maltese government bears responsibility for the circumstances leading to her assassination.
Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bomb on October 16, 2017. With her indispensable investigative work, she exposed abuses such as the lucrative trade in EU passports, and unending corruption in the highest echelons of Malta’s government.
Evidently, the Public Inquiry report concludes that the murder was either directly or indirectly linked to her journalistic work and that Malta’s government bears responsibility. Free Press Unlimited welcomes the report's conclusions and continues to support the family in their quest for justice.
Signs were ignored
That is, Malta’s government created a culture of impunity where powerful individuals believe themselves inviolable, the report concludes. At the same time, Maltese authorities failed to recognize and act on the concrete threats to Daphne Caruana Galizia. Never was she able to count on protection, despite the fact that her life was evidently in danger. Noteworthy signs along the way included the killing of her pet as well as a direct attempt to set her house on fire. Furthermore, Daphne Caruana Galizia became a victim of a political campaign that was established directly against her, and initiated by- among others- high-ranking figures in government and affiliates with close political ties. The Public Inquiry report further mentions that the process of dehumanization that followed Daphne (with people in the street spitting at her, handcuffs in the mailbox, among other such demoralizing actions), was accompanied by the portrayal of her as a "witch" - which the report adds, further paved the way to her murder.
Undoubtedly, Malta’s government has not done enough to protect Daphne Caruana Galizia, which is why the report concludes that Malta’s cabinet in its entirety bears the brunt of the responsibility for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. This is precisely what is written in the conclusion of the Board of Inquiry in the report, which encountered a significant amount of political resistance even prior to the appointment of the Board.
Flawed rule of law
The Maltese government must acknowledge and claim responsibility over its complicity in the case. Whilst the report does not provide a conclusion to the ongoing criminal case, where top businessman Yorgen Fenech has been identified as a suspect, the Public Inquiry report draws important conclusions about some of the major flaws and failures of Malta's rule of law. This report should be the start of a systematic strengthening of the rule of law and systematic improvement for the safety of journalists in Malta. To this end, the Inquiry Board makes a number of recommendations for the state of Malta, inter alia legal recognition of the role of journalism in democracy, and the appointment of a Commissioner or an Ombudsman, solely for journalistic endeavours.
Investigate findings of journalists
Investigative journalists are often victims of intimidation, violence and in the worst cases, even murder. Investigative journalists often expose issues such as corruption, abuses of power alongside other abuses that those in power often do not want to have exposed. More journalists have been killed in democratic societies in recent years than have been killed in war zones. The Inquiry Board has rightly emphasized that in order to effectively protect journalists, there must always be timely investigations into crimes that journalists expose. Rather than publicly discrediting them, investigating journalists' credible findings is the best way to ensure their protection. This can address the root of the threat in many cases. This is indeed urgently needed to improve the safety of (investigative) journalists in Malta and worldwide.
Free Press Unlimited has structurally supported the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia in legal support throughout the years.