The mastermind who commissioned journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination a year ago will never be known without public pressure, her son Andrew Caruana Galizia said in comments to The Shift News.
On the anniversary of her death in a car bomb outside her home, her son said the vilification that his mother had faced was “a contributing factor to her murder”. Anyone fighting for justice now puts them “in the same dangerous space she occupied”.
“My mother’s high public profile in Malta should have been enough to protect her, but it wasn’t. If the country’s best-known journalist can be wiped out just like that, on an ordinary Monday afternoon, while a large section of our society falls over itself to explain it away, I can’t see how anyone else is safe,” he said.
In the past year, the family has been the target of a government-led disinformation campaign that questioned the motive in their call for justice for Daphne. In parallel, activists, journalists and politicians critical of the government have been called ‘”traitors” and “prostitutes”.
It is a reality that Daphne and her family had to live with for years. “We’ve always had to deal with government harassment. It’s just so much worse that it continues after my mother’s death,” Andrew said.
Labour MPs have openly insulted family members on social media and discredited them repeatedly throughout the year. Pro-muscat social media accounts still accuse Andrew’s brother of causing his mother’s death.
How did Malta become a place where investigating political corruption can get you killed?
“Instead of viewing my family and me as political adversaries and ‘fair game’ for its near-criminal propaganda, it should be asking the same questions we are: How did Malta become a place where investigating political corruption can get you killed?” Andrew said.
It was a question on everyone’s mind on 16 October, 2017. Daphne’s death shocked the country. A year later, three known criminals were accused of carrying out the assassination but there is no indication of who commissioned her death, buying her silence.
Leading international non governmental organisations (NGOs) working on press freedom are in Malta for a global call for justice. Andrew thinks this is important for the protection of others calling out corruption.
“I can’t help thinking that if my mother’s work had received the current level of international attention while she was still alive, no one would have dared harass her – let alone end her life. The vilification and harassment anyone fighting for justice for my mother now faces puts them in the same dangerous space that my mother occupied,” he said.
He hopes the international pressure that was missing before Daphne’s assassination can now achieve two important things: ratchet up the price of any malfeasance in the criminal investigation into her murder, and help protect journalists and civil society groups at risk who are following up on her case and demanding accountability more generally.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), PEN International, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), International Press Institute (IPI) met Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Monday to support the family’s call for a public inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s death.
A public inquiry is the only way for the State to learn how to prevent future deaths
A public inquiry is a legal obligation under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and Malta’s Public Inquiries Act provides the legal framework for it. But Muscat did not budge. He repeated his previously stated position that such an inquiry would only be considered after ongoing police and magisterial investigations were concluded.
On Monday, the Opposition presented a motion in Parliament calling for a public inquiry into the assassination. The government is now isolated in denying its necessity.
Muscat told the BBC 4 Today programme that “a second public inquiry is not needed,” and he repeated that again last week (despite the fact that the Attorney General’s [second] reply to the request for a public inquiry said it was being “actively considered”).
There is no “second public inquiry”. The criminal proceedings are investigating a much narrower issue which is who detonated the bomb, and the magistrate is investigating whether others should be charged with criminal offences for commissioning the crime.
Neither process is investigating the wider and much more serious question of whether the State was responsible for her death – that is why a public inquiry is needed, the lawyers of the victim’s family have argued.
Caruana Galizia’s son said this was important for the family, and it was of benefit to the country: “How can we use this trauma to learn lessons for our country and protect journalists?”
“A public inquiry into whether my mother’s life could have been saved is important to us as a family, as we need to know the whole truth about my mother’s assassination. And it is important for Malta as a country and for journalists working in Malta as it is the only way for the State to learn how to prevent future deaths,” Andrew said.
He said there was no rational argument against Malta doing all it can to learn lessons and protect lives. “Anything else makes the government look either deeply insensitive, complicit in my mother’s death, or both”.