The three sons of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia – Matthew, Andrew and Paul - have expressed fears that government leadership changes risk lifting pressure for “pressing changes that the country needs”. 

In an open letter to the members of the Monitoring Committee of the Council of Europe, ahead of a meeting on Thursday on whether Malta is honouring its obligations to the Council of Europe, the three sons decried the lack of commitment by new Prime Minister Robert Abela to implement recommendations by EU bodies. 

“All independent assessments, by bodies of the Council of Europe and the European Union, have so far come to the same conclusions and have offered recommendations to support Malta on its path towards functioning democracy, built on the rule of law.

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“None of these recommendations have been taken up by the outgoing government and none have been referred to by Prime Minister Robert Abela, save for saying that ‘we have to pick and choose which of the Venice Commission’s proposals to implement’ and that he will implement two of them,” the three sons said in their letter.

The new prime minister has yet to commit to reform or to even acknowledge the depth of the country’s institutional crisis, they said, adding that Dr Abela should be requested to commit to a clear timeline to implement the recommendations.

The journalist’s sons also said it was clear on the day of their mother’s murder on October 16, 2017, and it has “grown clearer since”, that Ms Caruana Galizia’s assassination was ultimately caused by the failure of the country’s weak democratic checks and balance. 

“Our mother’s assassination is only the most egregious example of how vulnerable this system is — that is, based entirely on unchecked trust — when the individuals elected to public office are themselves complicit in criminal activity,” they said. 

On former chief of staff Keith Schembri, who in December was hauled in for questioning in relation to the murder, the three sons said that the only check he faced in his “destructive career in public office” was Ms Caruana Galizia’s reporting. 

“It is only the exposure of his suspected role in her assassination that has brought a measure of accountability in the form of his resignation from public office.

“In a country with effective institutions and true separation of powers, it should not take the murder of its most prominent journalist for a government official to be held to account. And yet in Malta that is exactly what it took: our mother’s life, and for only partial accountability.”

The sons concluded their letter by telling the committee they were prepared to provide it with testimony should this be requested.