A consortium of British, Greek and German media outlets won the Daphne Caruana Prize for journalism, announced at the Daphne Caruana Galizia Press Room at the European Parliament in Strasbourg by Parliament President Roberta Metsola on Tuesday evening.
The award has been given each year since October 2020 to journalists or media who have conducted distinguished work based on the principles and values of the EU. It is awarded on or around the anniversary of Caruana Galizia’s assassination on 16 October.
The winning investigation looked into the tragic shipwreck that left some 600 migrants dead off the coast of Pylos, Greece. It was the work of Greek investigative outlet Solomon, Forensis, the German public broadcaster StrgF/ARD and the British portal The Guardian.
Entitled “Under the unwatchful eye of the authorities’ deactivated cameras; dying in the darkest depths of the Mediterranean,” the investigation found the tragedy occurred due to actions taken by the Greek Coast Guard. It also laid bare various inconsistencies in the accounts of Greek officials.
“Today, as every year, we honour Daphne Caruana Galizia’s memory with a prize that is a powerful reminder of her fight for truth and justice. Journalists worldwide continue to be targeted for doing their job, but they refuse to be silenced. This Parliament stands by their side in this long-standing battle to safeguard press freedom and media pluralism in Europe and beyond,” Metsola said during the ceremony, which awarded the consortium €20,000.
The journalists interviewed survivors, combed court documents, and spoke to sources from within the coastguard. They discovered a raft of missed rescue opportunities, offers of help that were ignored, and testimonies that suggest the Greek coastguards’ attempt to tow the vessel ultimately led to its sinking, something the Greeks deny.
The Shift’s Founder and Managing Editor, Caroline Muscat, one of the 12 finalists, said,”The award is well deserved. The team conducted a great investigation using the latest available tools on a very important subject.”
Over 700 journalists submitted 268 entries for consideration this year, with The Shift being shortlisted as a finalist and 11 others.
The Shift shortlisted
‘Courting Qatar: President invites alleged terrorism financiers to invest in Malta’ was authored by Muscat in January 2023 and chronicled Malta’s shady dealings in Qatar.
The Shift’s article revealed how President George Vella sought investment from Qatari-resident Syrian billionaires accused only two months earlier of funding an Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group.
The Shift subsequently revealed that the Qatari government covered many of the costs for several delegations from Malta to visit the country within a few months. They were joined by Corinthia Group, which has invested in the country. The Group’s Qatari partners also acquired Maltese citizenship ahead of the Maltese government’s eight visits in one year.
The story was published amid the start of the ongoing Qatargate scandal involving allegations that European Parliament lobbyists, their close aides, and family members were influenced by the Qatar government, particularly in decisions made in Brussels.
The 16 October 2023 marked six years since the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. An independent public inquiry into the assassination found that the Maltese state was responsible for creating a culture of impunity that led to her murder.