Peter R. de Vries’ murder is shocking and deeply disturbing. That this happened in the Netherlands, one of the highest-ranking European countries for press freedom, is a grim reminder that preventive action across Europe is even more urgent than ever.
In 2017, Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family warned her assassination had set a new standard of permissible behavior within the EU, and that others would soon die if decisive action isn’t taken. As with other journalists who have been killed since, Peter de Vries’ life could have been saved.
The murder of a journalist has grave implications beyond the personal loss. Mr de Vries investigated and reported on organised crime and is likely its victim. Law enforcement is now faced with having to bring criminals to justice for murder when their primary witness is dead.
Authorities across Europe need to act with urgency. Mr de Vries’ assassins and the murder masterminds must be swiftly brought to justice, and transnational preventive systems must be put into place to ensure that no journalists are ever killed again. Journalism is essential to our democracies. It should not be a death sentence.