In the wake of the heinous car bombing that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia, the Faculty first and foremost extends its condolences to her loved ones.
What happened on Monday afternoon is not only an act of aggression, violence and cowardice but also an attack on all of us who try to articulate ideas and understand social truths. All of this is not just about Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, but about a Society that has been weakened by a dialectic of hostility.
In this regard, I appeal for society to keep tabs on its moral compass and to remain a compassionate community. The atmosphere we are living in at the moment is one of fear and with fear comes a loss of independence of thought and action.
Academics at the Faculty for Social Wellbeing recognise that silence and complacency in the face of such darkness facing Maltese society is harmful. We need to take responsibility when we ourselves have rationalised decisions in public life that go against lawfulness and truthfulness.
In front of this journalist’s execution, we need to search deep within us to find a dignified strong and sustained response of outrage and subsequently demand for change. We acknowledge our responsibility to be part of the transformations we want to see in society. We believe in our and everyone’s responsibility and role to redeem our society through a thousand acts of honesty, decency, integrity, respectability, propriety and all that is good.
What is right is right and what is wrong is wrong, and our daily decisions and interactions need to reflect this belief.
Within this context I make reference to Prof. Marilyn Clark’s (Department of Psychology) research commissioned by the Council of Europe (2017) that has pinpointed the coercion that journalists all over Europe are experiencing.
The research suggests that a staggering 69% of journalists in CoE countries have reported experiencing intimidation, harassment and other instances of psychological violence in the course of their careers. A smaller percentage – but equally disconcerting – of 31% have also sustained various forms of physical violence....journalists are sometimes afraid to write the facts. Consequently, people are left in the dark; and this is a threat to our democracy. I would say it often arises directly from psychological violence, as attested by the 69% statistic. Nearly 1,000 journalists responded to the questionnaire: an equal number of men and women, most of whom had journalistic careers spanning 16 or more years. We also saw high levels of intimidation throughout: for example, in the last three years alone, 31% had experienced some kind of physical assault. But almost 70% reported psychological violence, including intimidation, harassment, belittlement, smear-campaigning, etc.
Watch interview on maltatoday.com.mt
In conclusion, the Faculty appeals for the following:
- Level-headiness in the public debate to allow investigators and the forensic police squad to work serenely and bring to justice the perpetrator/s of this immense violence.
- Acknowledgement of the importance of the fourth estate to ensure democracy, fairness and social equality.
- The assurance of institutional impartiality so that the State’s duty to sustain secure and safe communities is guaranteed and the capacity to respect the rights and freedoms of all is confirmed.
- The safeguarding of journalists from being demonised by political parties, individuals or groups and all protections to be afforded in the course of their duties.
- The promotion of a more active civil society which recognises the value of investigative journalism and informed debate.
Journalists cannot carry the weight of counterbalancing power on their own.
It is also the role of academia to stand up and protect the right to ensure and guarantee the common good of our society. It is of central importance that, as a community, we understand that we are all co-responsible for each other's wellbeing. In is essential that we speak out loudly in favour of zero tolerance for hate speech.
We must never accept a culture of fear.
Fear is the enemy of critical thought and mature debate, which are at the heart of academic freedom and which drives the pursuit of truth through knowledge.
Professor Andrew Azzopardi
Dean - Faculty for the Social Wellbeing