Our mother, Daphne Caruana Galizia’s, death and the manner in which she was killed are a disaster for freedom of expression in Malta and in the rest of Europe. After a full year of impunity for her assassination, the situation has deteriorated, with Jan Kuciak’s and Martina Kusnirova’s deaths in Slovakia, an attack on Olivera Lakic in Montenegro, and a planned attempt on Paolo Borrometi’s life in Italy.
As many journalists already know through the experience of their murdered colleagues, killing is only the first step in making someone disappear. The next step is to kill their legacy, destroy their reputation, and undermine their work. And then to harass anyone who tries to memorialise them, fight for justice, or campaign for investigation into the crimes they exposed.
Malta’s home affairs minister downplayed our mother’s killing as ‘unlucky’, the finance minister said the global outrage that followed her death is ‘exaggerated’. Two months after her funeral, the prime minister signaled that it was time to move on. In Valletta, one of this year’s European Capitals of Culture, protestors are harassed and intimidated when they try to leave flowers and messsages calling for justice at a protest site in front of the law courts. A spontaneous memorial in the same place has been destroyed or removed completely some 20 times, including last Sunday after international NGOs left flowers and messages there. Banners put up in our mother’s memory are constantly torn down and replaced, only to be torn down again. Vigils held every 16th of the month to mark the day our mother was assassinated are never reported by the state-run public broadcaster.
There are politicians, public officials, police officers, and people who never read anything our mother wrote, but who are happy that she was killed. Some of those responsible for securing justice are pleased that she can no longer report on their corrupt practices. People in government, with power over state media and law enforcement, say that our mother published fake news, effectively blaming her for her own death. They mock those who remember her, and they encourage others to forget her, hoping that her work will also be forgotten. Meanwhile, whoever ordered, commissioned, and paid for her assassination continues to enjoy complete impunity.
Our mother’s work has inspired thousands in Malta and elsewhere to fight back against the abuse of power and to demand accountability and an end to impunity, just as you are doing by being here today. Our mother is now beyond all physical harm and no longer needs anyone’s physical protection. But her memory and her work continue to be targetted by powerful people who are determined to destroy her legacy. We cannot let that happen.
By commemorating Daphne today, you help to protect her memory and her legacy and to bring us closer to justice: not criminal justice for her death but another sort of justice, one that recognises her
life’s work as a contribution to all of us and her assassination as a crime against us all.
Matthew, Andrew, and Paul