Human rights cases

Posters calling for a public inquiry after one of year of impunity for Daphne's assassination, alongside lit candles placed in front of the protest memorial, in Valletta, Malta.
The memorial in protest against the continued lack of justice for Daphne, on the first anniversary of her assassination. Photo by Miguela Xuereb.

We want to ensure that victims of political discrimination, abuse of power, and state collusion in criminal activity have access to justice. This fight for greater respect for human rights is intertwined with our fight for justice for Daphne.

Making public interest litigation more commonplace is one of the key purposes of the Foundation, part of our wider objective to strengthen democracy by forcing respect for constitutional rights.

Cases with Daphne and her family as victims

Daphne's family is involved, as applicants, in different human rights cases that arise from the criminal investigation into Daphne's assassination and our advocacy around it.

Legal support in these cases is provided by Dr Therese Commodini Cachia MP, Dr Eve Borg Costanzi at BCGL Advocates and Dr Jason Azzopardi MP. Their work was initially funded by Daphne's family and is now funded by the Foundation.

Recusal of Magistrate Herrera

The first legal action by Daphne's family was taken within hours of her murder, to request that the magistrate who was immediately appointed to hold a criminal inquest into the murder recuse herself.

Daphne investigated the magistrate a couple of years before her murder. Her reporting led to the magistrate being given a formal warning by the authority responsible for upholding judicial standards. In retaliation for the investigation, the magistrate requested that Daphne be prosecuted for criminal libel and also for harassment. The libel suits were eventually dropped by the magistrate and Daphne was acquitted of harassment.

The day after the court application was filed, Magistrate Herrera recused herself and was replaced.

Court ordered recusal of Deputy Commissioner Valletta

In November 2017, just a few weeks after Daphne's murder, her husband and three sons filed an application requesting that Malta's courts order the removal of the deputy police commissioner leading the murder investigation. Deputy Commssioner Valletta was at the time married to a cabinet minister and sits on the board of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, which had itself been a focus of Daphne's reporting.

In a judgement delivered in June 2018, the court found an Article 2 violation and ordered the immediate removal of Deputy Commissioner Valletta from the investigation. The judgement was confirmed on appeal.

The number of unsolved murder cases in Malta is high and Malta's criminal justice system is frequently criticised by international authorities on the subject, yet the number of constitutional cases filed claiming a violation of the right to life (Article 2 of the ECHR) is surprisingly low.

The banner case

In March 2018 Daphne's family fixed a banner asking three questions, to the facade of a privately-owned building in Valletta: “Why aren’t Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi in prison, Police Commissioner? Why isn’t your wife being investigated by the police, Joseph Muscat? Who paid for Daphne Caruana Galizia to be blown up after she asked these questions?”

The banner disappeared a few days later and Daphne's family put up a second one. This time the banner was removed by the Planning Authority, with the assistance of the police, within 12 hours.

Daphne's husband and sons filed a constitutional case claiming a violation of their right to freedom of expression, which is protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In July 2019 the court ruled the banners' message deserves protection, that the Planning Authority exceeded its mandate at law and violated the rights of Daphne's family when it removed the banners. The removal, according to the judgement, amounted to state censorship of private citizens.

The case is documented by Columbia University Global Freedom of Expression: Caruana Galizia vs. Planning Authority. Columbia's experts log the outcome as one that “expands expression” with a decision that “establishes a binding or persuasive precedent within its jurisdiction”.