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The Defender Of Free Speech: A Biography of Daphne Caruana Galizia - by Jennette Homer

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    • Jennette Homer at Pima Community College

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    Daphne Caruana Galizia. Does this name ring a bell to anyone? It should. She was the first prominent female journalist in Malta. At the time, “[newspaper] articles either did not carry bylines or were published under a pseudonym [in Malta]” (The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation). Instead, Daphne Caruana Galizia chose to publish her journalistic work under her own name. Before we continue on, let’s start from the beginning of her life. 

    Daphne Caruana Galizia was born on August 26, 1964 in Sliema, Malta to Michael And Rose Vella. She was educated at St. Dorothy’s Convent School and St. Aloysius College. Her first exposure to Malta’s political system occurred at the age of eighteen, when she was arrested for participating in anti-government protests. As a result, Daphne Caruana Galizia “never lost her outrage against [the] authoritarian government” (Borg). Later on in life, Daphne Caruana Galizia reflected that “What happened in the 1970s and 1980s was possible because people gave in”. She continued on to say that “They complied, they lowered lowered their heads below the parapet, and they worked with corrupt and abusive scum to ensure their own survival rather than defying them, [all] for the sake of a quiet life” (Daphne Caruana Galizia Quotes). This situation was one of the first steps toward her future journalistic career.

    In 1988, Daphne Caruana Galizia began writing a column for “The Sunday Times of Malta”. “Her column was unusual for its time — [it was] a mix[ture] of commentary, opinion, reportage and analysis” (The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation). Later on, Daphne Caruana Galizia helped establish the “The Malta Independent”. She became the associate editor of it. Her colleagues “remember her as [a] meticulous and hard-working [woman], [who was] not always easy to get along with” (Borg). Daphne Caruana Galizia began to branch out her journalistic career through a different avenue.

    In March of 2008, Daphne Caruana Galizia began a blog called “Running Commentary”. The first post published was titled “Zero Tolerance For Corruption”. Daphne Caruana Galizia ran her blog “Running Commentary” independently. She once stated that “It’s true that life is unfair and that much of it can’t be helped, but where I can do anything to avoid unfairness or to set it straight, then I will” (Daphne Caruana Galizia Quotes). Her blog became an avenue for her to report on the corruption, sleaze, and crime in Malta. Not to mention, “it quickly became [one of] Malta’s most popular independent news website” (Borg). “Running Commentary” attracted “a daily readership that averaged [about] 400,000 and sometimes up to a million” (The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation). 

    Daphne Caruana Galizia reached the pentacle of her journalistic influence in 2016. She posted a story “about [the] secret Panamanian companies that two top government politicians had set up just days after getting into power” (Borg). Her news story then continued on, Michelle Muscat —the wife of Malta’s Then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat — also owned a secret company in Panama. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat claimed that these allegations against him were unfounded. And it led him to called Malta’s 2017 General Election a year earlier than it was scheduled. This resulted in a victory for the Labor Party (of which he’s a member of). Daphne Caruana Galizia stated that the Labor Party’s victory was pre-planned ahead of the time. But her report was met with skepticism. As she stated “I don’t think standards can fall any further, really, unless we catch [the Prime Minister] Joseph Muscat fornicating with a sheep on a bed of hard cash”. She continued on with “And even then, thousands of people will say “It’s [his] private life.” [or] “Where’s the proof.”” (Daphne Caruana Galizia Quotes). This was not the first time that Daphne Caruana Galizia had challenged someone in power. But this time was a little different. 

    On October 16, 2017 Daphne Caruana Galizia was driving near her home in Bidnija, when her car suddenly exploded. She was killed instantly. Her remains were later found by a family member. At the time, this was the sixth car bombing attack to occur in Malta since 2016. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat did not immediately arrange a public inquiry into the death of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Corinne Vella, Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sister, stated that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat downplayed her death and “[is] working to[ward] transform[ing] her into a martyr for [the Labor Party’s] cause” (The Malta Independent).

    In conclusion, the nature of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s journalistic work was controversial in Maltese society. As a result, numerous threats of violence were made against her. Despite these risks, she continued to uncover corruption in Malta until her death. She once stated that “All others have the law on their side and all they need is the tenacious personality to withstand  constant harassment that is the fruit of corruption and abuse of power” (Daphne Caruana Galizia Quotes). Her very own words are a reflection of the type of person that she was. Daphne Caruana Galizia was a fearless woman, who was a true advocate for the freedom of speech even when in the face of adversity.


    Borg, Joseph. “Daphne Caruana Galizia Obituary.” The Guardian, 21 Nov. 2017.

    Caruana Galizia, Daphne. “Running Commentary”. (2008).

    Daphne Caruana Galizia Quotes. Facebook. (2017).

    “Daphne’s Sister Says President, PM Downplaying Assassination.” The Malta Independent, 22 Oct. 2017.

    The Associated Press. “Malta Marks 5 Years since the Killing of a Top Investigative Journalist.” NPR, 16 Oct. 2022.

    “Truth and Justice.” The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation.