Today is International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists and Unesco will be launching a campaign themed Truth Never Dies.
The campaign reminds us that a journalist is murdered every four days, often because s/he denounced corruption, trafficking, political wrongdoing or human rights abuses and aims at encouraging all to spread the work of journalists who were killed, perpetuate their legacy and demand that justice is done.
This sort of talk would not have meant much to Maltese society had it been made, say, 18 months ago. But all that changed on October 16, 2017 when blogger/journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a powerful car bomb explosion. The mastermind/s behind this dastardly act must have overlooked the full consequences of what they/s/he had done.
To paraphrase what Archbishop Charles Scicluna said shortly after the murder, there must be something wrong in a country where one is killed because of what one says or writes. That is why Ms Caruana Galizia’s was a political murder and not necessarily because people in or close to the corridors of power could have been involved, directly or indirectly.
It is imperative that society does not lose sight of the main point at issue: freedom of expression must continue to prevail and the independent media should get all the necessary support and protection to continue with its work.
Three men have been charged with Ms Caruana Galizia’s murder, even thanks to the input of foreign forensic experts. The accused must be presumed innocent and, thus, no one can claim the case has been solved. Far from it, even because the mastermind/s remain/s at large.
Maltese society is correct in piling pressure on the government and the law enforcement services to get to the bottom of the matter and hunt those who wanted Ms Caruana Galizia silenced. It must not relent. But that is not enough.
It is imperative that the cry for justice and truth is not muzzled before answers are found, Can David Cilia, the Archbishop’s delegate, told the congregation at a remembrance Mass marking the first anniversary of the murder.
“It is in the interest of a strong society, which respects democracy and the separation of powers, that transparency reigns in political issues, that information is allowed to circulate freely, that journalists are truly unshackled, are truly free, not because they have not been silenced like Daphne Caruana Galizia but because they are not persecuted or living in fear or retaliation. He said: “Our society deserves better but, ultimately, society will have what it permits.”
Society’s cry for justice to be made, for truth to prevail must, therefore, become louder and louder. The voice of the people cannot be denied.
Yet, words need to be supplemented by action, even in a tangible way. The independent media needs to be supported by both society and the commercial sector, including through a stronger readership and advertising.
Ms Caruana Galizia was silenced by the hand – commissioned, no doubt –that activated the detonator. The independent media can be gagged or weakened by efforts to make it look irrelevant and drain it of financial resources that mainly come from advertising.
If that is allowed to happen, the mastermind/s will win again and the messenger will be ‘bombed’.
Society cannot permit that truth dies.
This is a Times of Malta print editorial