Neil Camilleri & Kevin Schembri Orlan | The Malta Independent
The public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has held The State responsible for the murder of the journalist. The State failed to recognise the real risks to the journalist’s life, the report reads, and failed to take the reasonable steps to avoid these risks.
The report, which is 437-pages long, concluded that a culture of impunity was created and that the tentacles of impunity spread to regulatory bodies and the police, which led to the rule of law collapsing.
The State and its entities failed to acknowledge the “real and immediate” risk, including through the criminal actions of third parties, to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s life.
The State, the board said, failed to take the necessary measures to avoid this risk.
All evidence gathered by the inquiry led to the conviction that the assassination was intrinsically, if not exclusively linked to Daphne’s investigative work, which included allegations of administrative irregularities or abuse in major development projects which involved elements of big business.
The evidence revealed an “extended culture of impunity” not only among high officials in public administration, including persons of trust, but also to a restricted circle of politicians, businessmen and criminals.
It said that links between politics and big businesses were encouraged by the ‘business friendly’ attitude declared by the Labour administration. It said that ‘business friendly’ doesn’t not mean being ‘money friendly,’ and The State has a duty to uphold the rule of law and should never permit the thirst for money or power to tarnish good governance.
The board said it found proof of unwarranted closeness between businesspeople and government officials, which often led to big projects being subjected to magisterial inquiries or NAO investigations. These investigations confirmed irregularities, sometimes to the point of declaring that such deals were vitiated.
Some businesses took the occasion to carry out their projects with the least possible interference by the administration, and through the manipulation of public officials.
The figure of OPM Chief of Staff is “crucial” to understand how these links between the government and big business evolved.
Most of Daphne’s writings were about these two centres of power that were created – the political and the economic one. It is clear that her writings put her in direct confrontation with the people in power in these centres. This led some to feel the need to neutralise the effects of her writing.
This confrontation reached its peak after the Panama Papers leak and the 17 Black revelations, when it became clear that the journalist was acquiring sensitive information that could jeopardise certain plans as well as the stability of the government.
The government, including the Prime Minister, regarded her as their “only real opposition.”
The main reaction to this was a sustained campaign of hate and personal attacks against Daphne, incidents of verbal abuse, harassment and stalking and attempts to cripple her financially through legal means.
While some of these incidents can take place between two political parties (although never justifiable), The State has a duty to protect journalists and the right to freedom of expression, even when facing criticism.
Not only did The State fail to do this, but certain officials actively and directly acted in a way that prejudiced her rights as a journalist and contributed to the risk she faced.
It is clear that there were people in government and in business who had an interest to see Daphne’s writing neutralised. While there is no evidence that The State played a role in her assassination, it created an atmosphere where anyone who wanted to eliminate her could do so with the least possible consequences.
The campaign against Daphne started before 2013 but intensified over time. The board said that, after Daphne worked on the Panama Papers, 17 Black and the leaked FIAU reports, the risk grew. It was here that the need to silence her was felt the most.
“What was obvious to everyone was not obvious to the police commissioner, the security service or to other authorities tasked with keeping public order and ensuring good governance.”
The board said this “lethargy” by the authorities to investigate alleged wrongdoings is “inexplicable and censorable” and cannot be put down to incompetence or indifference.
The board also considered the “web of control” that was created by the public administration to contrast these serious allegations. It said it cannot but come to the conclusion that there was an “orchestrated plan” to neutralise Daphne’s investigative journalism.
The plan worked because it was organised by the Office of the Prime Minister and led to the total isolation of the journalist.
It also noted that the person who stands accused of commissioning the crime boasted of his closeness with ministers, the PM’s chief of staff and others.
The public inquiry report has been published in full on www.independent.com.mt
Full report here
Bron: The Independent