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RSF report highlights deteriorating press freedom climate in wake of Daphne Caruana Galizia murder (Demo)

This statement was originally published on on 14 October 2019.

On 16 October 2017, journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated by a car bomb that detonated near her home in Bidnija, Malta – an act that was previously unthinkable in an EU state. Caruana Galizia was the country’s most prominent journalist, known for her courageous investigative reporting exposing official corruption in Malta and beyond, including her reporting on the Panama Papers.

Read the report

A full two years on, there has still been no justice for this heinous assassination, which has shed light on broader systemic failings with regard to Malta’s press freedom climate, rule of law, and democratic checks and balances. Over the course of two years, Malta has experienced one of the world’s sharpest declines on Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF’s) World Press Freedom Index, falling 30 places to a current ranking of 77th out of 180 countries. Journalists continuing to pursue public interest investigative reporting in Malta remain at great risk, and citizen journalists and activists who remain vigilant in the campaign for justice are subjected to pressure and abuse.

RSF and The Shift have co-authored this report to examine the circumstances surrounding Caruana Galizia’s assassination, the flawed investigation that followed, the international reaction to date, and the next steps urgently needed to ensure full justice is carried out without further delay. This report has been developed under a project funded by the Justice for Journalists Foundation.

Chapter One outlines the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, background on her courageous investigative journalism, and implications for the safety of journalists and press freedom across Europe. Chapter Two examines the flawed police investigation that followed, and where things currently stand. Chapter Three explores the magisterial inquiry and police interference that has risked compromising it. Chapter Four describes the broader state of press freedom and journalism in Malta, including extensive online trolling, a continued dehumanization campaign, and threats against the press. Chapter Five outlines key reactions and findings of international bodies, and Chapter Six delves into the crucial and urgent need for a public inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

At the end of the report, RSF and The Shift have set out a series of recommendations to the Maltese authorities and the international community to ensure full justice is carried out. Crucially, a fully independent and impartial public inquiry must be established without further delay – a step which will require greater political pressure from international organisations such as the Council of Europe, as well as countries with strong bilateral relations with Malta, including the United Kingdom.

RSF and The Shift remain committed to the pursuit of justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia until every person involved in the planning and carrying out of this heinous attack – including the masterminds – are brought to justice.

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