The late journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sons, Matthew, Andrew and Paul, on Monday received the award for Outstanding Justice Campaign during the Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Awards for their campaign for justice following their mother’s assassination in October 2017.
“These three have brought down the Maltese government,” Bill Browder said on Twitter while congratulating them for the award.
Congratulations to @mcaruanagalizia @pcaruanagalizia and @acaruanagalizia for the 2020 Magnitsky Human Rights Award for your outstanding campaign holding the killers of your mother Daphne Caruana Galizia to account. These 3 have brought down Maltese gov’t pic.twitter.com/HoFr1SJGuN
— Bill Browder (@Billbrowder) November 16, 2020
The Magnitsky Awards began in 2015 as a way to recognise brave journalists, politicians and activists in the field of human rights, set up by Bill Browder, head of the global Magnitsky justice campaign.
The Caruana Galizias thanked Browder for his support of their efforts since the early days following their mother’s assassination by a car bomb a few metres outside their home in October 2017.
“Three years ago, my brothers and I were in a safe house outside Malta wondering how to get my mother’s murderers. ‘Do at least three things a day to annoy them,’ Browder said on a call. ‘There’s three of you. It shouldn’t be hard.’ Three years on, and we are not done yet,” said Paul Caruana Galizia.
Three years ago, my brothers and I were in a safe house outside Malta wondering how to get my mother’s murderers.
‘Do at least three things a day to annoy them,’ @Billbrowder said on a call. ‘There’s three of you. It shouldn’t be hard.’
Three years on, and we are not done yet. https://t.co/wUIY0S0hfF
— Paul Caruana Galizia (@pcaruanagalizia) November 16, 2020
His brother, Andrew, said Browder’s own campaign for justice for Sergei Magnitsky “was an inspiration from the start and taught us to use every lever we could get our hands on to force an effective investigation of our mother’s assassination”.
Magnitsky was Browder’s lawyer in Russia who uncovered a €230 million government corruption scheme that he exposed. “In retaliation, he was arrested and tortured for 358 days in Russian police custody and killed on 16 November 2009 at the age of 37. That was 11 years ago today,” Browder said in his opening speech at the awards ceremony
The award to Caruana Galizia’s three sons was presented by Maria Ressa, a journalist in the Philippines who has been facing concerted attacks by her government to silence her.
“They continue to fight for justice and that is why they continue to give all of us hope… I get hope from watching their family deal with this because in the end that is the only way evil forces will succeed is if we lose our faith, lose our hope in justice.
She described their campaign as “intense, tragic, hopeful”.
It was an honor to present Outstanding Justice Campaign of #MagnitskyAwards to @acaruanagalizia @pcaruanagalizia @mcaruanagalizia whose tireless pursuit of justice pave the way for all of us. They are a shining testimony to the amazing woman and journalist #DaphneCaruanaGalizia https://t.co/SXZcB3707o
— Maria Ressa (@mariaressa) November 16, 2020
Andrew delivered an acceptance speech, which he said he found difficult. While he has given a number of acceptance speeches for a stream of international awards to his mother, this was the first time that the sons were being awarded. He said this award was “humbling”.
“It feels strange to talk about what this means to me because we never really felt we had a choice. Fighting for justice for our mother is just something we had to do… Really, the people who chose to join us in this campaign, they’re the ones who faced the decision to choose to make sacrifices for us and what we were fighting for or to choose to continue with their everyday lives. And so many people have chosen to support us.
It’s really these people who have made this campaign possible and they’re the ones who have made sacrifices out of choice unlike me and my brothers who made sacrifices because that’s the only way we could live with ourselves,” he said as he was joined on camera by his child – a grandchild his mother never got to meet.
It links his mother’s case and the campaign for justice to some of the broader issues that Magnitsky was working on – the fight against kleptocracy, State capture and money laundering. “This is the fight that my mother was engaged in.”
“This is the defining battle of our generation,” Andrew added.
His brother Paul also addressed the online audience. The campaign the brothers took on meant that for three years their lives have been completely suspended in which they’ve moved from parliament to parliament, ministries, conferences, courtrooms to meetings with politicians and police around the world. He thanked all those who supported the campaign, “who over the past three years didn’t just stand beside us but also fought alongside us”.
“Working together we have started a process at last and one that still hangs in the balance of real change and real reform in Malta… for an open and just society she always wanted but never got to see,” he added.
Matthew, who Paul described as guiding them from darkness to light, also addressed the audience following the online event. He said that while his mother protected them from the verbal and physical abuse that she faced, they had to step forward after her death, not only to ensure justice but to ensure her stories weren’t silenced. “An unbelievable responsibility we carry to this day”.
The positive recognition of their work meant a lot to the brothers, Matthew said, adding that the sudden change of responsibility they all had to face, “The change that we’ve had to endure over the last couple of years has been worthwhile”.
Other recipients of human rights awards included Russian opposition activist Sergei Mokhnatkin “who stood up to the Putin dictatorship, was arrested multiple times, tortured and ultimately had his spine broken in prison by guards. He died on May 28, 2020”.
The saddest 2020 Magnitsky Human Rights Award goes to Russian opposition activist Sergei Mokhnatkin who stood up to the Putin dictatorship, was arrested multiple times, tortured and ultimately had his spine broken in prison by guards. He died on May 28, 2020. RIP Sergei pic.twitter.com/1UPTI0PzcX
— Bill Browder (@Billbrowder) November 16, 2020
The Belarus Free Theatre also received an award for Courage Under Fire for standing up to the Lukashenko regime in the face of torture and murder, but still carry on.
The campaign for justice has resulted in the Magnitsky Act that freezes assets and bans visas of human rights violators. It has become law in the US in 2012, in Canada in 2017, in the UK in 2018, in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Kosovo.
“But the one place where we struggled throughout was the European Union,” Browder said. He travelled to the EU on some 40 trips in which he was “rebuffed” and told that the only way he would achieve any success was to go to the individual Member States.
He went to The Netherlands where he met two MPs, one of whom was Pieter Omtzigt, the Council of Europe’s Special Rapporteur on the investigation of Caruana Galizia’s assassination in Malta who was instrumental in forcing the Maltese government to initiate a public inquiry into the journalist’s death.
The parliamentary resolution they put together calling on the Dutch government to formally introduce it at EU level. It passed despite the government’s reluctance and the Dutch government approached the EU. Other countries like France, Germany, Sweden and Denmark joined, among others.
“We now have a situation where we probably four weeks away from an EU Magnitsky Act,” Browder said.
Omtzigt and his colleague Sjoerd Sjoerdsma were awarded for their Outstanding Contribution to the Global Magnitsky Campaign.