Tista' taqra bil-Malti

Daphne Caruana Galizia

Daphne Caruana Galizia, the investigative journalist, writer and anti-corruption activist, was murdered on 16 October 2017, in a brutal, intricate assassination. Malta’s most famous journalist, Daphne was murdered close to her home in Bidnija, Malta with a bomb placed under the seat of her car.

Daphne has been described as “Malta’s crusading scourge of official corruption, cronyism and incompetence… the embodiment of investigative journalism: forthright, uncompromising and totally fearless.”

Within days of Daphne's death, four United Nations experts issued a statement, calling on the Government of Malta to “honour its commitment to a prompt, independent investigation”.

It is now over two years since Daphne's assassination and since the call by the UN experts for a “prompt, thorough and independent public inquiry and investigation.” During this time, grave concerns have been raised by numerous international bodies, including the Council of Europe and the European Parliament, regarding the progress and remit of the investigations underway, and the rule of law in Malta.

Why is a public inquiry needed?

Following her murder on 16 October 2017, the Maltese authorities initiated criminal proceedings against the men who allegedly detonated the bomb that killed Daphne and a parallel magisterial inquiry into whether others should be charged with criminal offences for commissioning the alleged assassins. Both the criminal proceedings and magisterial inquiry focus solely on criminal culpability.

However, neither process is investigating the wider and even more serious question as to whether the Maltese state is responsible for the circumstances that led to Daphne’s death.

Malta is legally obliged, under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to ensure that the investigation into Daphne's death is independent and effective. This is especially so if there is a possibility of state culpability for the death or system failure in preventing it.

To comply with Malta's Article 2 obligation, Malta's authorities must answer not only the question of who detonated the car bomb, but also wider questions, including questions about criminal culpability of any masterminds behind the assassination and their intermediaries, what steps were or ought to have been taken by authorities to protect Daphne and us, her family, from known risks to her life, and any contributing system failures that could or should have been prevented.

In almost two years since the car bomb attack, Malta has still not instituted any form of inquiry into these wider circumstances surrounding Daphne's assassination. As more time passes, more evidence disappears.

What's happening?

6 December 2019 — The first hearing of the public inquiry is held, with testimonies from Daphne's son, Matthew, and her husband, Peter.

15 November 2019 — The government of Malta announces changes to the board of inquiry and terms of reference, coming closer to the standards demanded by the Council of Europe and Daphne's family.

2 October 2019 — After calling for the meeting, Daphne's family meets the Prime Minister, Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

22 September 2019 — Daphne's family raise concerns over the choice of two members of the commission, Anthony Abela Medici and Ian Refalo. Objections to the conflicts of interest of these individuals, as well as serious problems with the terms of reference, were raised formally with the government. Council of Europe Rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt says that the public inquiry announced by the government of Malta does not meet the human rights body's expectations.

21 September 2019 — The government of Malta announces the decision to set up a public inquiry commission late in the evening on a Friday, five days before the deadline set by the Council of Europe. The government appoints Michael Mallia, a former judge, to chair the board of inquiry and former Dean of the Faculty of Law and constitutional expert Professor Ian Refalo and forensic expert Dr Anthony Abela Medici, as members of the Commission.