Silenced for telling the truth

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By Mariana Jaureguilorda Beltran & Maha Khan

October 16th marked a year since the brutal assassination of Malta’s leading investigative journalist and anti-corruption campaigner, Daphne Caruana Galizia. A bomb was placed in her car, which detonated as she drove away from her family home.

“She was silenced in the worst way,” said Jennifer Clement, president of the writers’ association, PEN International. Her death has resonated with journalists all over the world and has left a void within the country.

A year has passed, and there is still no justice for her murder. Three individuals have been arrested and have been charged with her murder, however, those who ordered her killing are still unknown.

Concerns about the impartiality and effectiveness of the government’s investigation grow, despite Daphne’s constant reporting showing high-levels of corruption within the government itself, no politician has been questioned.

“We are fighting for something important here and the Maltese have never really had anything to fight for up until to that day, now it’s a very dangerous place,” explains Ian Micallef, a family friend.

With her case being stalled and swept under the rug, uncertainty about the future of journalism grows. Daphne’s case is not an isolated one, in the last few years there’s been an increase in the attacks on journalists and Journalism as an institution.  According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in 2018, at least 43 journalists have been killed around the world, due to their work. This figure doesn’t include 17 other deaths in which the motive hasn’t been confirmed.

“It was a case that sent shockwaves to our community, we are still dealing with the aftermath,” said Matthew Mizzi, an attendee of the vigil.

It is clear that the situation is critical. With increased impunity and growing anti-press rhetoric, journalists are portrayed as enemies of the people which contributes to a dangerous environment in which to be a reporter.

But what is being done to avoid cases like this?

Independent non-profit organisations like the Committee to Protect journalists (CPJ) and PEN International promote press freedom worldwide and defend the right of journalists to report freely without fear of reprisal.

The CPJ is based in New York City and is made up of 40 experts around the world. When press freedom violations are reported, the committee mobilises a network of correspondents who then take action on behalf of those targeted. “Her death is significant both for the work she did and for the story that died with her,” said Elisabeth Witchel, independent consultant to the CPJ.

PEN International is known as one of the world’s first non-governmental organisation and first international body advocating for human rights. It’s currently an association of writers that first pointed out that freedom of expression and literature are inseparable. Daphne’s death lies runs deep at the heart of both organisations.

Six months after her murder, 45 reporters from 15 different countries came together to continue the work she’s left unfinished. The Daphne Project is the first project led by Forbidden Stories, a consortium of journalists based in Paris, with hopes of taking up the stories of those who have been silenced through violence, harassment and imprisonment.

If you have a team of journalists ready to continue an investigation started by a murdered journalist, what’s the point of killing? The Daphne Project hopes to eradicate violence towards journalists by showing further unity and commitment toward holding those in power accountable and always staying true to the truth.





Featured image by Maha Khan

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