Monday’s tragedy shook not only the tiny Maltese Islands, but the whole world.
While the news of veteran journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination made it to all international media, British daily newspaper The Guardian published an editorial on the situation yesterday evening, and a couple of eye-opening points were raised.
1. Journalists and journalism are facing extraordinary challenges
In light of such horrific events, The Guardian pointed out that Caruana Galizia is the tenth journalist worldwide to die this year “in pursuit of finding the truth”. As far as Europe goes, she’s the first.
“It is not special pleading to point out that journalists and journalism are facing extraordinary challenges,” the opinion piece read.
In another editorial which appeared on The New York Times on Tuesday, this issue was raised yet again. “With a journalist’s murder in Malta, a global threat grows,” the opinion piece read, going on to say that “the most fitting tribute to her work would be for leaders who purport to be democrats to denounce the demonization of journalists and to let reporters perform their essential democratic role without fear or harassment.”
June 2016: Journalists escort the coffin of slain news reporter Alex Balcoba during his funeral in Manila, Philippines. Photo by Reuters
2. This speaks volumes about the threat to freedom of speech’ in Malta
Quickly making reference to the numerous pieces of investigative journalism that Caruana Galizia had engaged in and published, The Guardian reiterated that such an assassination, beyond being a macabre and horrific turn of events, is also a direct threat to freedom of speech in the country where it happened.
The article also goes on to mention “the atmosphere of impunity and violence that has taken hold” in Malta, saying that while “her bravery cost her her life, it should not be lost in vain”.
3. ‘Local police already appear to be unsympathetic’
No doubt spurred by the likes of a Maltese police sergeant posting “Everyone gets what they deserve, cow dung! Feeling happy :)” on Facebook a few hours after the tragedy, The Guardian demanded a proper investigation, saying local police might not be in the best situation to handle this after all. The police sergeant was suspended less than 24 hours after the post appeared on Facebook, but many more Maltese people are still expressing poor confidence in the Malta Police Force, particularly the Police Commissioner. The latter was failed to hold a press conference or show any presence since Caruana Galizia’s murder, which is now approaching its 48th hour.
Prime Minsiter Joseph Muscat confirmed that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) will be joining Malta’s police forces on the investigation, after Opposition Leader Adrian Delia slammed the country’s rule of law.
4. Facts pointing to ‘how rotten the state of Malta appears’
This, according to The Guardian, is what really made Caruana Galizia’s reporting so striking.
The article goes on to detail worrying statistics on Malta, from it being labelled an EU “pirate tax haven” (responsible for the avoidance of €14 billion in tax) to the 15 “mafia-style shootings and bombings that have punctuated its last decade”. The facts don’t stop there, however, with reference being also made to infamous Calabrian organised crime syndicate ‘Ndrangheta’s €2 billion money-laundering operation through online betting companies in Malta, and of course the notorious EU passport selling scheme, which has received numerous criticisms over the years.
“Since many were taken up by Eurasian oligarchs, one can understand the accusation that Mrs Caruana Galizia was up against not a democracy but a mafia state,” the opinion piece comments on Malta’s citizenship-selling scheme (which saw 900 passports being sold in 2016).
5. ‘Malta is turning into a state run by, and resembling, organised crime’
At the end of the day, this is the main charge raised by the latest turn of events.
“Malta cannot be a sham EU state where elections, the rule of law and the courts are just for show,” the piece concludes. Questioning the island’s dedication to the democratic commitments every EU state has accepted, The Guardian suggested that this is the time for further steps to be taken.
“When a life is lost in the pursuit of truth, then the EU must take action”.