Maltese state found responsible for preventable death

02 March 2024

More than six years after it failed to prevent Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, the Maltese state has again been found responsible for a death that could have been prevented.

A public inquiry report published this week concluded that the Maltese state is responsible for the death of a 20-year old worker killed when a building under construction collapsed in December 2022. Jean Paul Sofia was the last of several workers retrieved from the rubble and the only one who did not survive.

The board leading the public inquiry into his death concluded that several conflicting regulations apply to Malta’s construction industry and no authority had oversight of the building that collapsed, and that “the state had failed to recognise the confusion in its own executive branch.”

The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation and the Public Interest Litigation Network that it set up assisted Sofia’s mother in pursuing justice for her son and campaigned along with others to overcome the Maltese government’s resistance to initiating a public inquiry.

The frequency of fatalities in Malta’s construction industry had long been overlooked and existing sanctions are ineffective. A 2023 report by The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation found that, over a 12-year period, the average fine handed out by the criminal court for a construction worker fatality was €7,030.

Without swift and holistic change, the lessons learned from a public inquiry will not save the lives of others. Malta’s government has pledged to implement the recommendations of the inquiry into Sofia’s death. The governance failures identified in the public inquiry into Daphne’s assassination remain unaddressed.