The Malta Independent 24 September 2021, Friday

We owe it to Daphne, her family and Malta

Wednesday, 28 July 2021, 08:01 Last update: about 3 months ago

Bernard Grech, Leader of the Opposition and the Nationalist Party

This week we expect a major turning point in  a story of untold pain and injustice.

The conclusions of the public inquiry on the barbaric assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the State’s responsibility in failing to prevent it are set to be published.

We would not be here were it not for the hard work and the determination of an extraordinary family and those who supported them.

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From the day Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated in a car bomb, her family did the unthinkable.

Instead of cowering in fear or drowning in sorrow, they rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

They resolved not only to bringing her allegedkillers to justice but to ensure this can never happen again.

They refused to let their mother, sister, wife and daughter die in vain.

They knew Malta had to change. And they vowed to do everything they could to help it change.

I lost my teenage cousin Karen Grech to a violent political murder many years ago.

My family campaigned for justice, sadly in vain.

So when I see the Caruana Galizias beating the odds with such strength of character, clear thinking and unwavering determination, I am deeply humbled.

I am also overwhelmed by a feeling of personal gratitude because I know their fight is a fight for all those among us who were killed, silenced, hurt or betrayed by a system that was meant to protect them.

After years demanding a public inquiry, the Caruana Galizia family sat down across a table with then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to negotiate the terms.

They did this knowing he could be protecting her killers.

They did this while his government swept away the candles and flowers at her memorial site every night.

They did this while his propaganda machinery was blaming them for her murder and accusing them of tampering with evidence.

Throughout Daphne Caruana Galizia's life, what this family experienced was appalling.

But what they endured after her death was unimaginably evil. And it was funded by taxpayer money.

Thankfully, their upbringing by the most fearless woman Malta has ever seen, prepared them even for this horrendous state of affairs.

The support and unity shown by thousands of brave activists, protestors and campaigners undoubtedly gave them even more courage. I remember the sense of purpose in the air when we marched in the streets alongside organisations like Repubblika, Occupy Justice, Moviment Graffitti, the independent media, and so many others who stood up to be counted when Malta needed them most.

Their combined efforts, including the tireless work, at great personal sacrifice, by the family’s lawyers Therese Comodini Cachia and Jason Azzopardi, have got us to where we are today.

Some of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s alleged killers are in jail awaiting trial.

After almost two years, the public inquiry has been concluded.

The inquiry’s brief was to examine whether the State has effective means of avoiding a state of impunity and deterring serious criminal offences, through proper law enforcement machinery for the prevention, suppression, investigation and punishment of serious breaches of the law.

We all know the answer is a resounding no.

The State’s failure has been confirmed time and time again, most recently when our once proud reputation was confined to a greylist.

Robert Abela has persisted in this failure when he retains people like Carmelo Abela in Cabinet and Rosianne Cutajar in Labour’s parliamentary group.

The Police Commissioner also persists in this failure when he fails to prosecute people like Joseph Muscat and Konrad Mizzi.

And the State’s failures keep cropping up in people's everyday lives such as when ordinary people become slaves to Malta’s outrageously slow court system.

Or when the institutions that are meant to keep people safe in their homes conspire with those who are endangering their lives.

Or when those who speak out against injustice face vindictive actions by government or the wrath of trolls and propaganda machinery.

The judges’ findings will undoubtedly be embarrassing for this government, not least for Robert Abela who mocked the Caruana Galizia’s demands and stood by Muscat’s side during the worst of their ordeal.

Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder was a confirmation of everything PN said in the 2017 election campaign about the real consequences of unchecked corruption and impunity.

Many people will be expecting the Nationalist Party to capitalize on this moment and try to score political points from it. But to do that would be to undo the incredible efforts by all those who campaigned for real change.

Our job as an Opposition is to finish the job started by Matthew Caruana Galizia, and his mother before him.

So our response to this inquiry will be to work as hard as we possibly can to enact the inquiry’s recommendations in the quickest time frame.

We have already formally extended an invitation to the government to set up a bi-partisan effort to draft the necessary legislation.

We are committed to bringing this process to the conclusion it deserves.

We owe it to Daphne Caruana Galizia and we owe it to her family.

We also owe it to ourselves, as self-respecting citizens, who should no longer be forced to take action by foreign institutions.

We owe it to our country and our children.

We can be authors of our own destiny. We should write a new chapter for Malta together.

Even if the government refuses to engage with us, as Robert Abela has repeatedly done in the last few months, the Nationalist Party will rise above petty politics and keep insisting on supporting a process of real, lasting change in this country.

This should not wait until the next election. Our citizens should not have to wait any longer until they feel safe in their own country. 

If the Caruana Galizias could do this from the day they saw their mother killed in a field, we can do it too.

We are here to serve and to lead by example.

 

 

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