The government’s next steps following the publication of the inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia will be to keep working on a robust programme of reforms and have a serious discussion on the future of journalism in Malta, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Sunday.
Speaking during a radio interview on Labour Party station ONE, Abela said that the government would kick off a series of discussions this week.
“We are approaching this challenge with a sense of responsibility and national unity,” he said.
“This doesn’t mean that we’re going to agree about everything but we must develop our thoughts and debate each other respectfully.”
The inquiry by retired judge Michael Mallia, former chief justice Joseph Said Pullicino and Madam Justice Abigail Lofaro found that a culture of impunity was created from the highest echelons of power within Castille that created a “favourable climate” in which anybody who sought to eliminate Daphne would be able to so with minimal consequence.
“Now that the country has had time to read the report, attention must be focused on working diligently on reforms,” Abela continued.
“We are planning these changes which will not only change the landscape today, but for generations to come. We want to leave the country better than it is today.”
Abela said that the government was looking at reform on two levels, the first by continuing its own ongoing programme of reform and the second by discussing the future of journalism in the country.
“There have been important changes, such as the removal of criminal libel, but we are now in the phase where we have to look at and establish a basis of sustainability, including financial sustainability for journalism” he said.
“While we provided financial sustenance for the (media) industry during the pandemic, the time is now to look beyond that and as a responsible legislator take advice from those who know the industry well.”
Abela criticised Opposition Leader Bernard Grech’s public response to the inquiry as “negative and destructive”.
Speaking in parliament during a debate about the inquiry findings on Friday, Grech demanded Abela renounce former prime minister Joseph Muscat and accused him of being a “puppet” seeking to give the impression that Malta’s institutions worked, an illusion that had been shattered by the placing of the country on the FATF’s grey list.
“The Opposition’s attitude to the inquiry will ultimately be judged by the people, on my part I will not be playing political games,” Abela said.
“What is irritating is that they fail to acknowledge the reform and positive changes made by people who work honestly and loyaly to be a force for good. They don’t deserve to be mocked and their good work deserves to be acknowledged.”