Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family has said the public inquiry report is “a landmark” in the campaign to ensure the Maltese State is held accountable for its positive obligation to protect journalists and called on the government to accept the recommendations of the inquiry and to publish its plan of action without delay.
“This is a historic opportunity to ensure real change for the safety of journalists and to a process of national healing following the traumatic assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia on 16 October 2017,” the family said in a statement.
Caruana Galizia was brutally killed by a car bomb a few metres away from her home as she was investigating a cache of leaked documents related to the Electrogas energy deal.
In their statement, the family members said the public inquiry’s findings confirmed their conviction from the start that the journalist’s assassination was “a direct result of the collapse of the rule of law and the impunity that the State provided” to the corrupt network on which she was reporting.
It ends with a series of recommendations that if implemented could change the face of Maltese democracy, restore the rule of law, heal the nation's trauma, and make my mother's the first and last assassination of a journalist in Malta. https://t.co/dQMWZxB74I
— Andrew Caruana Galizia (@acaruanagalizia) July 29, 2021
“We hope that the findings will lead to the restoration of the rule of law in Malta, effective protection for journalists, and an end to the impunity that the corrupt officials that Daphne investigated continue to enjoy. Daphne and her work will live on in ensuring that the recommendations of this inquiry affect lasting change,” the family said.
Citizens gathered in front of the Office of the Prime Minister in Valletta today following the publication of the report prepared by the panel of judges. Its conclusions were damning, stating clearly that the State must carry responsibility for the journalist’s assassination.
It refers to a culture of impunity and the fact that State officials actively or indirectly deprived her of the liberty to work freely and in a secure environment. The campaign that led to her isolation was organised from the Prime Minister’s Office, the panel of judges concluded.
They also drew attention to the police’s failure to investigate serious breaches of the law. The State, ultimately, is responsible for creating a climate in which her assassination was possible.
“Every citizen now has a report that states, black on white, that the State must carry responsibility for the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia,” said Repubblika President Robert Aquilina addressing the crowd that gathered in Valletta on Thursday.
“The report also confirms that individuals within state entities failed to protect Daphne Caruana Galizia and did everything in their power to silence her. They did everything in their power so we would remain in the dark,” he added.
Repubblika said the institutions must “wake up” and the police commissioner must move on prosecuting those at the highest level of government involved: “No more dragging of feet”.
The election, the group said, must not serve to bury the findings of the report. “We want an election that addresses the report’s recommendations,” Repubblika stressed, adding that those mentioned in the report must be held accountable.
Opposition Leader Bernard Grech said in a statement the conclusions of the inquiry were clear: “Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder was enabled by the collective inaction of Joseph Muscat’s cabinet, many of whom still hold public office. Robert Abela must ensure that responsibility for this culture of impunity is shouldered.”
It follows an earlier statement in which he said the Party would commit to implement the recommendations resulting from the inquiry.
Disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat also commented on social media, largely maintaining the same position he took before the findings were even published. He cast doubt on the findings, tried to project blame on the opposition as well as somehow exonerate himself by tying this inquiry to the Egrant case.
He insisted he has “paid the ultimate political price” by resigning. Dissidents say this is not enough and he must be held accountable.
The board of inquiry also does not support his stand, saying he was indirectly responsible thanks to the culture of impunity he enabled that allowed the murder to take place.
International press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders said it would continue to work to hold the Maltese government accountable for addressing these extremely worrying failures, with a particular eye to ensuring concrete measures are implemented to actively protect journalists still working in Malta.
The International Press Institute said: “This is an important milestone in the long fight for justice – one which Daphne’s family fought hard for. But it’s vital that this report is not seen as a closure, but as the beginning of a vital process of national reconciliation for Malta.”