JUSTICE FOR DAPHNE
'Maltese Authorities Still Won’t Tell Us Who Wanted her Silenced'
Updates on the lasting legacy of the murdered Maltese journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Dedicated to Daphne
“There is a very brave journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, who died when gathering this material for the Panama Papers and I dedicate my work in this film to Daphne and to the ongoing scrutiny of the press. The film is about the bravery of whistle-blowers and how we are increasingly relying on whistle-blowers and especially journalists.”
This was the dedication made to the murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia by Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep, speaking about her new film The Laundromat at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The film, directed by Steven Soderbergh, is a fictional account of the Panama Papers leak which Caruana Galizia reported on in Malta in February 2016 when she uncovered the hidden offshore holdings of the Maltese Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Keith Schemberi, and the Minister for Tourism, Dr Konrad Mizzi. She reported that they both held offshore companies in Panama and the Virgin Islands, based in trusts in New Zealand. Schembri and Mizzi remain in their positions, with Dr Mizzi currently under criminal investigation for the offshore funds.
The film is based on the book Secrecy World by Jake Bernstein, which details money laundering and corruption from the Panama Papers leak that contained 214,4888 secret offshore companies worldwide.
Since the Panama Papers leak, the revelations have helped recover more than $1.2 billion in back-taxes around the world, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
In the Spirit of Daphne
Award-winning Maltese investigative journalist Caroline Muscat has received the 2019 Reporters Without Borders Award for Independence for her outstanding and courageous investigative reporting in Malta.
At a ceremony in Berlin, she dedicated the award to the late journalist. “This award is dedicated to Daphne Caruana Galizia and her family who continue to fight for justice against the odds,” she said. “I would not be here speaking to you today unless Daphne hadn’t been assassinated in a car bomb, a few metres away from her home in October 2017. She was a journalist who shone a light on corruption in the country and she did that with professionalism and with integrity and for that she paid the price, the highest price you could ever pay.”
Reporters Without Borders said that The Shift News, founded and edited by Muscat “promotes press freedom in Malta and, despite numerous lawsuits, Caroline Muscat uncovered many cases of corruption in local politics”.
Muscat, previously editor of The Times of Malta and a communications director for Greenpeace, set up the independent news site in Malta after the murder of Caruana Galizia. She has faced extreme pressures in her reporting including many libel actions, online harassment, hate campaigns and constant intimidation.
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At the awards ceremony, Muscat said the fact she did not give in to the endless intimidating libel threats targeting her investigation of corruption for The Shift News meant that other newsrooms in Malta had no choice but to follow her lead. Reports of corruption in the Maltese mainstream press could no longer continue to be removed or altered, she said, and so the public were able to be informed.
“Daphne shone a light on the rapidly spreading rot of corruption that has taken over our country and, almost two years after her brutal murder and in a country of half a million people, the authorities still won’t tell us who wanted her silenced,” Muscat said. “We journalists don’t need to be heroes. The fact that some of us are being recognised as such says more about the countries we work in than it does about us. We are all made more vulnerable when justice is out of reach and impunity strengthens the hands of the corrupt.”
Matthew Caruana Galizia, the son of the late journalist, congratulated Muscat. “Caroline deserves this recognition for opening people’s eyes when many of our friends choose to close their own, for persisting in doing what’s right when almost everything is wrong, and for fighting back against the people who wanted my mother dead,” he wrote.
An Inquiry for Daphne
Maltese authorities are showing “no initiative” in uncovering who ordered the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and an independent public inquiry into her death must be established, the Maltese opposition leader Dr Adrian Delia has said.
Delia withdrew five libel actions against Caruana Galizia following her murder. “[An] inquiry is in the interest of the entire population, which is being deprived of information that is in its interests,” he told the Times of Malta.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has given Malta a three-month grace period for an inquiry to begin into the murder, but this will expire on 24 September.
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For more than a year Byline Times has contacted the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and his Cabinet for comment on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the absence of an investigation into the masterminds behind her killing and the rule of law in Malta. This week, Byline Times received another response of no comment.
The British Foreign Affairs Committee recently urged the UK Foreign Office to publicly call for an independent public inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s murder when it published a report on global media freedom earlier this month. The report said that the crime “should set a precedent for accountability and not, as it currently does, for impunity”.
The Maltese Government is also yet to respond to Byline Times regarding the independent public inquiry, which is required under European Human Rights legislation.