Saturday, 4 November 2017

Daphne Carouana Galizia’s death reminds us of the importance of free speech

November 2nd celebrates the International Day to End Impunity, a day that should be highly regarded if one thinks of free speech and on the defense of important values within a democracy.

Just very recently, in October 16, Daphne Carouana Galizia, the journalist who was investigating the Panama Papers - the second history’s biggest data leak after the Paradise Papers - was killed when a bomb exploded inside her car, near to her house in Bidnija, Malta. Investigations are still undergoing as to determine the motives and possible suspects in this horrific crime.

The brave Maltese woman was a prominent journalist and blogger who reportedly assembled more viewers that the whole Maltese media combined.

During her investigation on the Panama Papers, Daphne allegedly found a connection with the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, the leader of the ruling Labour party. The 53-year-old journalist alleged that Muscat and his wife were operating an offshore company that received over US$1 million in payments from a Dubai company allegedly owned by Leyla Aliyeva, a daughter of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev. Muscat denied the allegations.

From the Panama Papers to the reportedly massive corruption in the island of Malta, Daphne’s work became very “uncomfortable for those in power”, wrote The Guardian. “Those about whom she has written in the past year range from government ministers to the newly elected leader of the opposition; the characters in her stories included a convicted drug smuggler and a local millionaire who complained after she alleged that he had built a private zoo without planning permission.”

Indeed, she caused the government to call on new elections in June 2017. Though Joseph Muscat’s Labour party ended winning the re-election.

Fuelled with an anti-corruption stance, she continued her quest unfolding her findings on her blog “Running Commentary” where she posted a few moments before she left the house and was killed. On the post, she accuses Keith Schembri, Muscat’s chief of staff of being a “crook” and denying that in court.

The PM Joseph Muscat reacted to her death: “Everyone knows Ms. Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine, both politically and personally but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way,” said Muscat who condemned the attack has an “attack on press freedom”.

Daphne’s son, Matthew, also made a public statement on Facebook. He vigorously claimed that his mother was targeted as she attempted to stand in for the prevalence of the rule of law: “My mother was assassinated because she stood between the rule of law and those who sought to violate it, like many strong journalists,” said Matthew, Daphne’s son. “But she was also targeted because she was the only person doing so. This is what happens when the institutions of the state are incapacitated: the last person left standing is often a journalist,” he added.

Daphne Carouana Galizia was buried on November 3rd, in Mosta, near her village, leaving three children and a husband.

In 2017, thirty-two journalists have been killed with a motive confirmed, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). If it is confirmed that Galizia was targeted, she would be the first in Europe.

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