Sassoli on Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize: Protecting and supporting journalists is in the vital interest of democratic societies

Extracts of the President’s Speech at the Opening of the Award Ceremony for the Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism
Today, the Daphne Caruana Prize for Journalism was awarded to the journalists from the Pegasus Project coordinated by the Forbidden Stories Consortium. The winner was chosen by an independent jury composed of representatives of the press and civil society from the 27 European member states and representatives of the main European Associations of Journalism. The Prize was initiated by a decision of the Bureau of the European Parliament in December 2019 as a tribute to Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese anti-corruption investigative journalist and blogger who was killed in a car bomb attack in 2017.

Speaking at the opening of the award ceremony, Parliament President David Sassoli said:

“The murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia was a watershed moment for European journalism, for our politics and our societies, as it touched upon the very core of our European identity.  

“An investigative journalist and blogger, Daphne Caruana Galizia shed light on what others wanted to keep in the dark. She was an extraordinary journalist doing a remarkable job, a fierce fighter for democracy – and she paid for that with her life. The fact that reporters are attacked or even killed while exercising their duties is intolerable. Journalists must never fear for their lives because they are doing their jobs.  

“Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death has brought about a resurgence of investigative journalism by colleagues committed to continuing her work. Recent examples, such as the Pandora Papers, have demonstrated the unique power of journalism that is daring and adamant, particularly when carried out in the context of an international consortium. By creating transparency, investigative journalism allows voters to make informed decisions. Protecting and supporting journalists is in the vital interest of democratic societies.

“The European Parliament has always been at the forefront when it comes to defending freedom of expression and information. We have fought for better protection of whistle-blowers, so that those who come forward to disclose information on illegal or harmful activities do not have to fear reprisals. Much more needs to be done in an international context as we think of those who have been living in exile and in prison for years just because they offered the public the information it deserved.

“We are alarmed by the developments in some EU member states where we see more and more attempts to silence critical voices and to influence media institutions, often going along with excessive economic concentration and a decline in pluralism.

“We have to find effective ways to sanction those who restrict media freedom and properly punish those who threaten or attack journalists. Above all, we have to make sure that the rule of law is not undermined in our member states, since this is the backbone of independent journalism. Journalists must be able to rely on authorities to protect and defend their interests, rather than fear them. We owe this to the brave reporters who have been killed.”

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