Political party media should be “strictly controlled” to stop them from fanning flames of division and hate, while upcoming reforms in the wake of the Caruana Galizia murder inquiry must not be “hijacked” by political parties, a former president has advised.

Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family and the country will only achieve closure once all those involved in the 2017 assassination are brought to justice in the shortest time possible.

The former president, Labour minister and general secretary was approached for reaction to the independent inquiry which established that the Maltese state must bear responsibility for Caruana Galizia’s murder as it had failed to take reasonable steps to protect her from risks while fostering a culture of impunity involving politics and big business that left her isolated at every turn.

Closure will be achieved when all those involved are brought to justice

Coleiro Preca said the country needs to work towards closure to extract itself from this “dark pit which has left a stain on our nation”.

“We are at the crossroads: we either take the right road to reform our institutions to ensure we live in a true democracy, or else get lost in political rhetoric and risk a repeat of more shameful episodes in future,” she said.

“We need to see this as an opportunity to rebuild, and safeguard the real  foundations and pillars of democracy and human rights. This means acknowledging that the media, and individual journalists who serve it are an essential and valued component of a healthy democratic system. We need to consider whether to support the independent media, even financially, to ensure its independence.”

Coleiro Preca urged the country to never lose sight of the fact that three sons lost their mother in horrific circumstances.

“I am pleased that the prime minister has shown the humility and courage to apologise to the Caruana Galizia family and that he emphasised that the Maltese people have nothing to do with this shameful episode… I am encouraged by the prime minister’s reaction to the report that he has the will and commitment to see this through.”

She said she acknowledged that some reforms have been already introduced during these last months, however, much still needs to be done.

“What we need above all else is a change in mentality, from a blinkered partisan approach to a mentality that rises to a national approach. This applies to the party media, whose output should be strictly controlled to ensure it does not fan flames of division and hate. It also applies to the State broadcaster, which should always be mindful that it is there to serve the nation and not the government of the day.

What we need above all else is a change in mentality, from a blinkered partisan approach to a mentality that rises to a national approach

“We need to consider if the State broadcaster could be a completely independent organisation accountable to parliament, for example. ”

Reforms must not be hijacked by the political parties, and space should be given to civil society and all those who would like to partake in a constructive national conversation should have the space to do so. Everyone should be able to express their opinion without the fear of being attacked either physically or on social media.

Coleiro Preca appealed to both the prime minister and the opposition leader not to waste time scoring political points but to work together genuinely.

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