Tuesday

22nd Jan 2019

Letter

Malta responds to Venice Commission criticism

  • The prime minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, made it very clear that he positively welcomed the findings of the Venice Commission report (Photo: PES Communications)

Following the publication on 18 December of an report by Andrew Rettman on the Venice Commission's report on Malta, Muscat's one-man rule poses problems for EU, EUobserver received this letter from the office of the prime minister of Malta, which we publish here in full as a right of reply:

Letter to the editor, EUobserver

In a press conference soon after the publication of the Venice Commission's report on 17 December 2018, the prime minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, made it very clear that he positively welcomed their findings.

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And the government of Malta will be passing on all the proposals to the constitutional committee, which was formed a few weeks ago and is headed by Malta's president, with representation by opposition and government members.

It is important to point out, the current system is a legacy which dates back to 1964 when the current constitution was established.

In the current circumstance, the government urges all involved to put party politics aside and seek to improve on the reforms which started five years ago when the current government took office, to modernise our constitution and laws.

Malta's government is a reformist one. The reforms already underway support this.

These include the following:

- The financing of the political parties' law;

- The Whistleblowers' Act;

- A law which abolished the prescription on corruption offences committed by politicians;

- Reform which changed the method of appointment and discipline of Judiciary members;

- A law which created a power of scrutiny by parliament on chairpersons of principal regulatory authorities, and non-career ambassadors and high commissioners;

- A law lessening the powers of the attorney general in drug and other cases;

- And laws which introduced the right to a lawyer during arrest, the right of disclosure, and other reforms brought into force which improved this sector.

The prime minister also made it clear in his statement that he believes the opinion of the Venice Commission to be a valuable contribution to the process of legal and constitutional reform in Malta, because it builds strongly on what the government has been implementing since 2013, after so many years without change.

It is also an important point of reference for strengthening Malta's rule of law.

The Venice Commission's recommendations included amendments to the role of the attorney general, by separating prosecutorial powers from the advisory role.

The current attorney general was appointed in 2010, under an established practice since colonial times, that the most senior member in the AG's office is appointed attorney general.

The role of the attorney general is that of a legal counsel to the government on matters of state.

Three arrests have been made and the three individuals have been arraigned in court over the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The investigations are still ongoing.

Sarah-Louise Galea, head of international media relations, office of the prime minister of Malta

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