SIX months ago today, a car bomb exploded in Malta. Inside was Daphne Caruana Galizia, a pioneering journalist focused on exposing corruption and fraud revealed by the Panama Papers.

She died because people wanted her voice silenced. But her voice will never be silenced as long as people remember her, champion her journalism, challenge impunity – wherever it lingers – and protect the men and women committed to exposing wrongdoing.

This did not come out of the blue. For years Caruana Galizia received death and libel threats for her work, leading her son Matthew, himself a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, to state: “our mother’s death warrant could have been signed two years ago.”

The car bombing that killed her was one of five that have rocked Malta in the last few years, with the majority of the crimes left unsolved. But her killing is part of a larger and more dangerous trend that is bigger than Malta; a trend that means journalists are threatened or killed for doing their job.

The legacy of Daphne Caruana Galizia should be more openness and a renewed commitment to support journalism – but in Malta, in the year that its capital city Valletta has been awarded joint European City of Culture, we are seeing movement in the opposite direction.

This is highlighted in a letter sent to Jean Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, and Michel Magnier, the director of Creative Europe. Authored by PEN International, it was signed by Scottish PEN and prominent journalists such as Caroline Criado Perez, Lisa Appignanesi, Can Dündar and Paul Muldoon. It outlines how more than 30 libel threats against Caruana Galizia, including one brought by the Maltese Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, are being pursued against her family, even after her death.

Concerns over the independence of the Maltese investigation into the murder remain also remain. According to the letter, the inquiry “does not meet the standards of independence, impartiality and effectiveness required under international human rights law. The very same individuals Caruana Galizia was investigating remain in charge of securing justice in her case”. Inaction or reticence to seek justice will only empower those seeking to silence criticism through violence.

In the eyes of those who kill journalists, concepts of independent scrutiny, transparency and openness threaten the consolidation of power and influence within opaque systems that robs the public of the ability to hold powerful corporations and those who govern them to account. Journalists are often the last, best hope to ensure the public have all the facts required to make informed decisions, whether in the polling station or as part of their everyday lives. So attacks on journalists are attacks on us; our ability to know more, to unpick falsehoods and to establish the true motivations and interests which shape our society.

The killing of Caruana Galizia came just a month after the killing of Gauri Lankesh in India; four months before the death of Jan Kuciak in Czech Republic; and nearly six months before the killing of Yaser Murtaja in Gaza, but these are not the only writers who have lost their lives for their journalism. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), since 1992, approximately 822 journalists have been killed, and these are only the killings for which the CPJ could confirm motives for (another 505 killings have been recorded with unconfirmed motives). These killings are scattered across the globe, from conflict zones in Syria and Afghanistan, to countries such as Algeria, Bangladesh, Mexico and Belarus.

So today marks the soberest of anniversaries – six months after the killing of a journalist unafraid to confront power and empower the public. This is not just a loss for Malta, this is a loss for all who believe that independent and fearless journalism is a vital aspect of a modern pluralist and participatory democracy. As we lose another journalist, we need to do more to protect journalists, defend press freedom and oppose impunity that undermines justice at every turn.

So today, on this anniversary, read what you can of Caruana Galizia’s work at to demonstrate that no act of violence can silence fearless journalism. Stand up and call for more robust protections for journalists around the world and join us and the Maltese anti-corruption organisation, Il Kenniesa, outside the Scottish Parliament today at 2pm for a vigil for Caruana Galizia. Together we can remember Daphne and stand in solidarity with at-risk journalists wherever they are.

Nik Williams is project manager for Scottish PEN

Robert Somynne is a member of the Writers At Risk Committee