As tributes pour in on the day marking three years since journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated, international press freedom organisations, editors and the Special Rapporteur of Council of Europe, Pieter Omtzigt, have reiterated their call for justice and an end to impunity.
“We call for thorough and effective criminal investigations and prosecutions that ensure the whole truth is uncovered and all those responsible for Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder are held to account in court,” 19 international media freedom and freedom of expression organisations said in a joint statement.
The organisations welcomed the establishment of a public inquiry into the broader circumstances of the assassination and whether it could have been prevented, despite the fact that this has only led to further pressure to ensure that all the truth emerges.
“To date, the public inquiry has uncovered extensive failures of the State and its entities to protect the life of Caruana Galizia and a pattern of intimidation and harassment of her and her family, as well as other independent journalists, steered from the highest levels of government,” the organisations said.
It joined the call for the government not to interfere in the public inquiry and to allow it to fulfil its terms of reference in full independence.
“In this regard, we have been gravely concerned by Prime Minister Abela’s attempt to impose a time limit, unduly interfering with the fair and effective fulfilment of the Board of Inquiry’s task,” the organisations said.
They added that it was unacceptable that three years after her death, the journalist’s family lawsuits “brought against her by former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his wife Michelle, former Minister Konrad Mizzi and his wife Sai Mizzi Liang, the oligarch and governing party donor Silvio Debono and others.”
“We will continue our campaigning and joint advocacy until there is full justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia. We hope that this year will be the last time that, in commemorating her, we must call for an end to impunity and the continued harassment of her family, so that we can fully focus on honouring her legacy as a fearless investigative reporter,” the statement concluded.
The statement was signed by ARTICLE 19, Civil Society Europe, Committee to Protect Journalists, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited, Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), IFEX, Index on Censorship, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Media Support (IMS), International Press Institute (IPI), Justice and Environment, Media Diversity Institute (MDI), Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT), PEN America, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Scottish PEN, Transparency International EU.
The Council of Europe’s Special Rapporteur said that despite magisterial inquiries there is still no justice for the brutal assassination.
“Even though three suspected triggermen were charged almost three years ago, even though the intermediary confessed almost a year ago, the trial of those accused of Daphne’s murder has still not begun,” Omtzigt said.
He said that three years have passed and the compilation of evidence against Fenech that started in 2017 “splutters on, mired in confusion, with no end in sight”.
Omtzigt reiterated his demand for Abela not to interfere in the public inquiry looking into the murder of the journalist.
“Although magisterial inquiries into Daphne’s reports on high-level corruption continue to lead nowhere after three years, the Prime Minister is trying to shut down the independent public inquiry into her assassination after only a year. This inquiry has made remarkable progress in casting official, public light on the wider circumstances surrounding her death. It must be allowed to fulfil its broad and inclusive mandate.”
“My thoughts are with Daphne’s family on this sad day. Three years have passed but we have not forgotten and we will not forget. The fight is not over,” Omtzigt said.
Peter Bardy, editor-in-chief of Aktuality.sk, the portal that lost one of its journalists investigating corruption – Jan Kuciak – also paid tribute to Caruana Galizia, calling her “a hero”.
“Despite intimidation and threats, lawsuits and court litigations, she published important articles about corruption in Malta. She was arrested twice because of it.”
Bardy is no stranger to attacks on journalists. Kuciak and his girlfriend Martin Kusnirova were shot outside their house in 2018, just five months after Caruana Galizia’s assassination.
“I wish to help bring justice for Matthew’s mom, her sister Corinne, your family and for all the good people,” Bardy added.
Index on Censorship has published an interview with Caruana Galizia’s sister, Corinne Vella, who spoke about what she misses the most about her sister.
“I mostly miss speaking to her about what’s going on, basically,” Vella said adding that like many in Malta, she was an avid reader of her blog.
She also spoke of the harassment Caruana Galizia had to endure, mostly through vexatious libel suits in court, some of them still active until this day.