International press freedom NGOs renewed their calls for justice for the death of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, warning the Maltese authorities that they will not back down from their mission until the masterminds behind the assassinations are identified.
Addressing a huge crowd in Republic Street who gathered to mark the one-year anniversary of her death, representatives from the International Press Institute, Committee for the Protection of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom and PEN International spoke high words of praise for Daphne’s work and said they would continue pushing for answers.
Pauline Ades-Mevel, Head of EU and Balkan desk at Reporters Without Borders, said Valletta was the world capital of journalism. “Those who killed her, those who thought they would silence her, didn’t realise that her assassination would turn into something so important and international. For every person here there are thousands of us abroad supporting justice for Daphne and for further reforms to ensure that this cannot happen to any one else ever again”.
Describing her as a remarkable woman and courageous investigative journalist, Ades-Mevel said the NGOs were in Malta to show the local authorities and international community “that we will not forget Daphne and not rest until those who carried out the attack are brought to justice”.
Her murder had a wider implication as what was at stake was the need for journalists to be able to investigate without being killed or living in fear of disappearing, she said.
“We are supporting the family’s call for a public inquiry as to whether her assassination could have been prevented. This is an essential step in the pursuit of justice and protection of journalists and anti-corruption campaigners in Malta”.
Courtney Radsch, from the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, echoed this statement, saying that there appeared to be meaningful investigation to find masterminds behind her murder and the authorities seem to be satisfied that they have identified three possible hitmen. “That is insufficient and we told the Attorney General and the Prime Minister that this does not suffice”.
Daphne was not alone and too many journalists were killed for their work, Radsch said. She described corruption as a “dangerous beast” and pointed out that sadly now this was too common in Europe. “We must change the discourse – we must allow protest memorials to journalists who were murdered. We are watching and waiting to see what the Maltese authorities are going to do to bring the killers of Daphne to justice”.
Scott Griffen, from the International Press Institute, said it was unacceptable that one year passed since her death without answers.
“We believe this is about fundamental questions, justice and rule of law and about the type of society Malta will be – will it be a society where criminals are brought to justice or where those who order journalists to be murdered in broad daylight will be allowed to roam free?”
This case went beyond Malta and was about the fate of Europe and the values embodied by the EU, Griffen added. “Failure to achieve justice will be a cruel and unacceptable result for family , friends and Malta. It could deal a severe blow to the rights of journalists across Europe, emboldening those who wish to silence scrutiny and criticism and we cannot allow that to start here in Malta”.
Carles Torner, Director of Pen International, said he had told the Maltese authorities to leave the protest memorial alone and that he must respect the people’s right to protest and mourn.
“Not in Putin’s Russia, not in Erdogan’s Turkey does a government destroy a memorial 21 times. We tell the government don’t you dare remove the memorial we place tonight,” he said to a cheering crowd.
Torner himself had placed flowers and candles in front of the Great Siege Memorial on Sunday evening – only to have these cleared overnight.
“We have witnessed the radical evil – from the day of her assassination, writers around the world have been asking for justice for the masterminds of her crime to be brought to justice. For the cycle of violence and fear which ended with the life of Daphne to stop,” he said.