The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro has welcomed the publication of the report of the public inquiry into the circumstances around the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, calling it a “significant step in achieving justice”.
“I call on the Maltese government to promptly bring all perpetrators and masterminds behind the journalist’s murder to justice,” Robeiro said in a statement. She took note of the apology made by the government and its “willingness to analyse in-depth the outcome of the report”.
Noting “several shortcomings by the Maltese government”, Ribeiro asked the authorities to “implement fully the recommendations made by the board. Such implementation will pave the way for the safety of journalists and could form a step towards healing this profound wound in Maltese society”.
The statement pointed out that the State and its institutions “did not recognise the real and immediate risk, including from the criminal actions of third parties, to the life of Daphne Caruana Galizia; and failed to take measures within its extensive powers which, with reasonable judgment, it was expected to take to prevent such a risk”.
The OSCE representative also noted one the of key findings of the public inquiry that the assassination was “intrinsically, if not exclusively, linked to her investigative journalistic work”.
Following the publication of the report which sparked protests in the country and calls for resignations and wide-reaching reforms, there were additional reactions from leading journalists unions and international press freedom organisations that stressed the need for implementation of the recommendation of the report by the panel of judges.
The Association of European Journalists said the “extraordinary report must be the basis for a step-change in the priority accorded to Malta and other European states to protecting the safety and work of journalists.”
“Never again must such a state-sponsored crime be allowed to take place. Never again must such a conspiracy of powerful political, business, and criminal figures be allowed to prevail,” AEJ Media Freedom Representative William Horsley said.
The International Federation of Journalists, representing more than 600,000 journalists around the world, also noted that the Maltese government was responsible for Caruana Galizia’s murder and “failed to take action” in protecting her. The union welcomed the findings and called on the government to increase accountability and to enact “concrete reforms to protect all media professionals.”
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “We welcome the findings of the independent inquiry and hope they will prompt the Maltese state to finally take concrete steps to end impunity for crimes against media workers. Ending the culture of impunity for crimes against journalists and ensuring their safety is a precondition for good journalism and democracy.”
The International Press Institute wrote that the findings of the report constituted a “vital step towards accountability and a key milestone in the long fight for justice for Daphne’s murder”. The organisation stressed the inquiry must not be seen as closure, but rather as a “process of national reconciliation”.
The IPI’s statement echoed that of the Caruana Galizia family and their legal team who gave a press conference last week. They said that the recommendations should be implemented in full and in an independent, nonpartisan and transparent manner.
Paul Caruana Galizia, Daphne’s youngest son, said it was imperative that the reforms don’t turn into “government-run reforms that cherry pick recommendations.”
“The most important thing is that recommendations are implemented in full, independent from the government themselves. They must be open, honest, transparent, and the country must unite over them. A panel of experts must be established, and they must be non-partisan,” he said.
The reforms include reconciling with the family, taking significant steps to protect journalists, increasing accountability, limiting the power and influence big business has on politics, dealing with impunity, and ensuring that respect for journalists and the media is enshrined throughout institutions including law enforcement.
The Caruana Galizia family’s legal team warned that if Malta fails to adequately implement reforms, further legal action and input from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe could occur.