As we enter the fifth year since Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, Malta must not waste any more time in implementing reforms that will prevent future deaths and ensure that the country is set on the right path.
The public inquiry report on Daphne’s assassination recognises press freedom as a pillar of a modern democracy and the need to create an enabling environment for independent journalism. It also recognises the need to address impunity, corruption, and abuse of power. The process of reform is as important as its outcome.
The committee appointed to guide the reform process should be composed of members who have expertise in the role of journalism and press freedom in a democracy, who are impartial and independent, and who have the time to give to the anticipated workload. It should be appointed in a way that reflects the fundamental principles and objectives of reform. An unsuitable committee would do more harm than good, and take Malta even farther away from its international obligations.
Malta is subject to the European Convention on Human Rights, to recommendations and resolutions adopted by the Council of Europe, including Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)4 on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors, which Malta signed in April 2016 but has yet to implement, and to the European Commission’s Recommendation on the protection, safety, and empowerment of journalists and other media professionals. Implementing these recommendations and resolutions as part of the wider reform process would set Malta on the right path.
Malta must emerge from this crisis stronger. It will only do so through a process of reform conducted with integrity.