People gathered outside Malta House in London on Monday afternoon to remember Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist murdered with a car bomb six months ago.
The vigil was attended by representatives of NGOs calling on the Maltese authorities for justice.
Index on Censorship, Reporters Without Borders, the International Press Institute and others have signed an open letter demanding the ongoing investigation into Caruana Galizia’s death to be monitored.
“It wasn’t just one person they silenced. When you silence a journalist, you attempt to silence an entire community, an entire country,” Jodie Ginsberg, Index on Censorship CEO, said.
The investigative journalist, who wrote about corruption and human rights breaches in Malta on her blog Running Commentary, had previously received threats because of her reporting. She was branded a political enemy and her face was put on billboards around the country by the governing party. She was murdered on 16 October 2017.
Many of the investigations she was pursuing before her murder are being taken up by journalists around the world who will publish the corruption she worked to expose.
Matthew and Paul Caruana Galizia, two of the journalist’s sons, who attended the vigil, emphasised the importance of ongoing support and said the event was “almost like another funeral because we’ve hit the six-month mark”.
Excerpts from Caruana Galizia’s writing were read out and sprigs of bay leaves, “Daphne” in ancient greek, were held by attendees. Chants of “Justice for Daphne, no more impunity” were directed at Malta House.
Ravi Prasad, head of advocacy at the International Press Institute in Vienna, was at the memorial. He is outraged at the government of Malta for superficially bandaging the issue instead of investigating properly.
“They have arrested some people but these are not the perpetrators, the actual masterminds behind the murder,” he said. “They’re trying to blame others. It’s a classic example of impunity. This is intolerable. Most of these journalists are not killed because they are covering a conflict. They were murdered for exposing corruption.”
The Director of Free Press Unlimited, Leon Willems, represented the Dutch free press organisation. The organisation, Willems told Index on Censorship, is “extremely concerned about the growing impunity with which attacks on journalists take place all over Europe. We think the case of Daphne Caruana Galizia is a case in point where we see that in spite of all the efforts, nothing much is happening and there are no real consequences.”
He added: “We think that is a grave danger to journalism and Europe and we are very concerned about the current trend.”
Holding vigils of this kind is faced with much opposition in Malta. A memorial to Daphne in front of the law courts in Valetta was recently removed. Tina Urso, activist at Il-Kenniesa, has helped organise six memorial services around the world for Caruana Galizia. She says the police in Malta find a way of shutting down the events and that “people are getting really scared.” But the anti-corruption activist believes that international voices are crucial in getting the attention of the authorities. She said: “When it comes to international pressure we know that it really bothers them and we know that they pay attention.”
The vigil was followed by a discussion of the case at the House of Commons on Monday evening.