Government is perpetuating the state failures that enabled Daphne's assassination

03 October 2023

Implementing the recommendations of the public inquiry into Daphne’s assassination is essential to change the face of Maltese democracy, restore the rule of law, heal the nation’s trauma, and make Daphne’s murder the first and last assassination of a journalist in Malta. That ambition is under threat as Malta’s Government has failed, once again, to face up to its responsibility to reverse the conditions that made Daphne’s murder possible.

In his address to parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Abela failed to mention the public inquiry report’s Rule of Law recommendations, thereby reconfirming his Government’s intention to ignore them. This is a shocking response to Daphne’s ultimate sacrifice, and a worrying reminder that investigative journalists will remain unprotected.

We remind the prime minister and his government that the public inquiry report concluded that the Maltese State must shoulder responsibility for Daphne’s death.

First, because it failed to protect her when there was a real and immediate risk to her life - a risk the inquiry found was “obvious to everyone except to the authorities responsible for protecting her” whose failure “cannot be explained by incompetence or indifference alone.”

Second, because the State itself actively contributed to the risks Daphne faced by seeking to isolate her, to dehumanise her, to cripple her financially, and to discredit her investigative work into government corruption - work the inquiry found to be substantiated by evidence.

Third, because the Office of the Prime Minister bred a culture of impunity that “like an octopus spread to other entities, such as regulatory institutions and the police, leading to the collapse of the rule of law”, leaving the subjects of Daphne’s reporting free to hit back.

Fourth, because high-level corruption meant there was a powerful constellation of interests in government and business that had a joint interest in “neutralising” Daphne’s reporting and an interest in protecting her murderers.

The inquiry found there was an “orchestrated plan” to neutralise the political impact of her reporting, “which was successful because it was orchestrated by the Office of the Prime Minister.” This was a groundbreaking confirmation of the role political propaganda played in her death.

The inquiry also concluded, based on witness testimony, that senior government officials sought to mislead police investigators and journalists in the aftermath of Daphne’s assassination in an effort to help the culprits escape justice and media pressure.

The choice the Government has faced since the public inquiry report was presented to the prime minister on 29th July 2021 was to implement effective reform to prevent future deaths, or to perpetuate the systemic State failures that enabled Daphne’s contract killing. We are horrified that Malta’s prime minister and his cabinet have chosen the latter.