Nobody deserves to die

Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder was a cold, calculated and barbaric act that has shocked the nation

Cartoon by Mikiel Galea
Cartoon by Mikiel Galea

There are few words that can console her three sons and husband. She was ruthlessly stolen from them. Theirs is the deepest pain of all.

But those behind this heinous crime have done much more than hurt a family. They have injured a country. The anonymous hand has struck at the heart of democracy by killing a journalist.

Caruana Galizia may not have been everyone’s cup of tea. Indeed, her style mixed investigative journalism with tabloidish critique of individuals, some outside the public eye. Her writing was incisive but at times hurtful; insightful as much as it could be prejudiced. She was fearless as much as she was reckless.

But whatever we all make of her writing and style this is not the time for a puerile debate on whether Caruana Galizia was hero or villain. Nobody deserves to die.

She was a journalist and by striking her down, the perpetrators of the crime have hit out at all journalists. Freedom of expression has received a severe blow at the hands of criminals but society will recover; it has to recover.

Freedom of expression is the lifeblood of a democratic country. But so is the rule of law.

For years we have witnessed a gradual erosion of trust in the national institutions, such as the police and the judiciary that are supposed to protect us.

The political will to redress the situation has been lacking for decades, which has only helped fuel a culture of anything goes – a culture of impunity.

This situation is also to blame for what has happened this week and should serve as a wake-up call for the country.

Closing an eye to minor infractions encourages further wrongdoing and when this happens it becomes easier for more people to do as they please, seek justice with their own hands and hence perpetuating a vicious circle that harms the very fabric that binds society. It then becomes easy to overlook and justify much larger crimes perpetrated by conniving criminals.

Caruana Galizia, like other journalists, often stood up to this sad state of affairs, earning her rebuke from the people in authority and politicians. Her style may have conflated issues, prompting valid criticism at times but by no stretch of the imagination can anyone justify what happened to her last Monday.

Justification in any form or shape will only hand victory to the criminals who silenced Caruana Galizia. These criminals will not think twice to silence others.

But in the dark clouds that hang over this country, Caruana Galizia’s murder can still serve as a reflection on the value investigative journalism still has in society. Despite the constant denigration of journalists by politicians, people in authority and sections of the public, the fourth estate still serves an important purpose.

When all else fails, the media may very well be the last bastion of protection for the freedoms we enjoy.