May 3 is World Press Freedom Day
2019 marks the 26th celebration of
which was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993. Since then, May 3rd has become an opportunity to celebrate the fundamentals of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom internationally; defend the media from attacks on their independence, and
Matthew Caruana Galizia is the son of murdered Maltese
and he spoke to KWQC about press freedom and journalist safety ahead of World Press Freedom Day.
"My mother had been harassed and intimidated over the course of her entire three-decade career," says Matthew. "In the last few years of her life we could see things were getting worse as she went through all the stages that a threatened journalist goes through: she was vexatiously sued for libel more than 50 times, illegally arrested and detained, the prime minister of Malta plotted with a Swiss company to sue her into bankruptcy in English courts, her bank accounts were abusively frozen by the Maltese courts at the request of the Minister of the Economy. None of the politicians who mounted the most awful misogynistic attacks on my mother were ever made to feel shame. Nor remorse: they still celebrate her assassination as an accomplishment for the government. After that, my brothers and I started to do the only thing imaginable to us: fight for justice, hold Malta to account and make sure this doesn’t happen again," says Matthew.
According to data collected by the
2018 saw an uptick in journalists killed in reprisal for their work after a nearly two-year decline. Matthew says he thinks "various things are coming together. Journalists are becoming better at investigating, especially at collaborating on investigations across borders. National judicial authorities have been unable to keep up in the same way and the reprisals have been borne by journalists instead of by the state, which in the case of Malta was rendered ineffective by state capture."
Matthew Caruana Galizia says the targeting of journalist and attacks on the press are not just a concern for media workers. "In democratic societies, attacks on the journalists are the first sign that a democracy is sliding backwards into unfreedom," says Matthew. And in undemocratic and authoritarian societies Matthew says citizens can"force change is to protect individual journalists, to stand up for them, support their work and continue it when they’re not able to. Without freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of association, all other freedoms are unattainable."
Matthew says the best way to honor the lives of journalists who were killed by bearing witness is to
push harder, and raise the price for killing a journalist.