PRESS FREEDOM

Marchers call for ‘truth and justice’ two years after journalist’s murder

Candlelight vigils were held in Malta and across Europe to mark the two-year anniversary of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination. 

Daphne Caruana Galizia vigil in Berlin

Candlelight vigils were held in Malta, the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium on Wednesday to mark the two-year anniversary of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

Caruana Galizia was a Maltese investigative journalist whose reporting had exposed offshore dealings of prominent political figures in her country, as well as uncovered numerous corruption scandals in Malta. In the lead up to her murder, her work included stories related to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Panama Papers investigation.

Caruana Galizia was also the mother of a former ICIJ developer, Matthew Caruana Galizia. She would have been 55 years old this year.

The vigils across Europe ranged from small gatherings outside the Maltese embassy in Berlin, to a rally on the streets of Malta’s capital, Valletta, where thousands of marchers carried candles, photos and signs calling for “truth and justice.”

Three men are currently in detention in relation to Caruana Galizia’s murder, but no trial dates have yet been announced.

Pieter Omtzigt, a special rapporteur for the Council of Europe, told the Guardian there had been a number of alleged failings in the investigation of Caruana Galizia’s death and suggested some evidence might have been neglected by authorities.

“Individual officers may be doing their best, but the approach of the police force as a whole, and of the politicians responsible for it, does not match the prime minister’s promise to leave no stone unturned,” Omtzigt told the Guardian.

ICIJ director Gerard Ryle said the anniversary was a devastating reminder of the dangers journalists face as they uncover corruption at the highest levels.

“Our thoughts are with Daphne’s family on this two-year anniversary,” he said. “The fight for justice must continue, for her family’s sake, for Malta’s sake and for the sake of press freedom around the world.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists, which helped organize some of Wednesday’s vigils, urged the Maltese government to ensure that a public inquiry – which was announced last month – would be “fully independent and impartial.”

Earlier in the week, the European Parliament president David Sassoli said it was an important time to remember the value of press freedom, and the role of journalists in a democratic society.

“It is worrying to think that in the 21st century there is still a need for warnings to defend the rights and freedoms of citizens: these are the foundation of our European values and must be recognized and fought for on a daily basis,” he said.

“Being killed for doing your job is never acceptable and it is gruesome to think that, according to data released on World Press Freedom Day, 95 journalists died in 2018 alone.”

Forbidden Stories, an organization developed to continue the work of reporters killed while reporting, has carried on the work of Caruana Galizia. PEN International has also written a poetry memorial for Caruana Galizia.