It is only if the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia completes its mission that lessons can be learnt however uncomfortable this process may be for those who bear responsibility, the foundation which bears the journalist's name said on Sunday.

In a statement to mark the year since the inquiry was established, the foundation, set up by the journalist's family, recalled that the inquiry began its work on December 6 last year, after a two-year campaign by civil society, NGOs, European institutions, and Daphne’s family to overcome the Maltese government’s initial refusal.

"In its first year, the public inquiry has made important, visible progress in its mission to investigate whether the Maltese state facilitated or failed to prevent Daphne’s assassination, to establish whether the state allowed an environment of impunity for serious crime to develop, and to determine whether the state has fulfilled and is fulfilling its positive obligation to protect individuals at risk, particularly in the case of journalists," the foundation said.

Such progress was made despite limited cooperation from the Maltese government. Witnesses representing government and state entities had to be summoned to testify and many withheld information relevant to the inquiry’s mission, it said.

More worryingly, Prime Minister Robert Abela’s 'ongoing attempts' to end the inquiry’s mandate undermined its hard-won and essential independence.

"It is only if the public inquiry completes its mission, as set out in its terms of reference, that lessons can be learnt from Daphne’s assassination, however uncomfortable this process may be for those who bear responsibility.

"And it is only then that Malta can begin a process of real change that ensures nothing like this ever happens again, to our country’s institutions or to one of our journalists," the foundation said.

It therefore called on the prime minister and persons in political office to respect the inquiry’s autonomy and to commit to implementing its report in full once it is concluded.

Last September, Daphne Caruana Galizia's family officially objected after the inquiry board was told by Prime Minister Robert Abela that he was granting a one-time deadline extension to December 15.

According to the family, the board said that the new deadline was insufficient and a further extension would be necessary. 

In October the inquiry board said it will go over the deadline if needed. A clause in the inquiry board’s terms of reference that established (the original) nine-month deadline came with a proviso about “the proper fulfilment” of the terms, the board pointed out.

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