Public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia's assassination: Our expectations of the reform process and outcome

17 February 2023

The 2019 initiation of the Public Inquiry into the circumstances of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and the publication of its report on 29 July 2021 were major steps towards justice for a murder that could and should have been prevented, and for a death for which the Maltese State has been found to bear responsibility.

We expect the State to implement the conclusions of the Public Inquiry report holistically so that lessons learned from Daphne’s murder may yet save the lives of others. Measures to address impunity, corruption and abuse of power must therefore also be an integral part of the reform. In the spirit of transparency which we hope will characterise the reform from hereon, we set out in this document our understanding of what an effective reform process and outcome should look like.

The document outlines the minimal requirements of reform Malta must implement to create and maintain an enabling environment in which the country’s public interest media are able to fulfil their essential democratic function. By instituting the necessary far-reaching reform, the State would make the assassination of another journalist not only impossible but unimaginable, and would clearly signal that dehumanisation, threats, and attacks against journalists are unacceptable.

The document identifies critical parameters for the reform process and outcome, based on the information and knowledge available to us at the time of writing. It may be necessary to set additional parameters as additional information and knowledge become available. A strong process based on the fundamental aims and values of reform should include an action plan with a clear timeline and milestones, and should bring about cultural as well as legislative, administrative, and policy reform.

Malta’s reform can only be as effective as the international standards to which it aspires, including the State obligations determined by the European Court of Human Rights, the recommendations and resolutions of multilateral institutions, and the analyses of multilateral bodies and international organisations whose remit is media freedom. Any measures that undermine Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)4 or the European Commission Recommendation on ensuring the protection, safety and empowerment of journalists and other media professionals in the European Union should be excluded from the reform.

As we have stated before, an enabling and safe environment for journalists today can only exist within a legislative and administrative framework that truly protects society from the harms of corruption and abuse of power, and which ensures that the corrupt and those who abuse power do not continue to enjoy impunity. The choice the State faces is stark: to implement effective reform to prevent future deaths, or to perpetuate the systemic State failures that enabled Daphne Caruana Galizia’s contract killing.

Full statement: Expectations and Outcome of the Reform Process