It has been said that good governance is the process whereby public institutions conduct public affairs, manage public resources and guarantee the realisation of human rights in a manner essentially free of abuse and corruption, and with due regard for the rule of law.
The key question is: are the institutions of governance effectively guaranteeing the right to health, adequate housing, sufficient food, quality education, fair justice and personal security?
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Good Governance and Human Rights
The national crisis Malta is facing today is the direct and predictable result of a series of strategic moves that have, over time, violated the fundamental elements of democracy and the rule of law. Successive Maltese governments and parliaments have retained and strengthened existing power structures with the main aim of self-preservation, obscuring the lines separating the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government: lines a democracy so desperately requires to remain healthy, inclusive and sustainable.
Ultimately, it is the entire nation that continues to suffer: the people – particularly the most vulnerable, the environment, industries, cultural heritage, civil society, ideologies, and justice. All this with much public encouragement and applause.
As non-governmental organisations vehemently not aligned to any of Malta’s political parties, the mission of aditus foundation, Integra Foundation and The Critical Institute is to promote the highest possible level of human rights respect and protection for all persons in Malta. Although significant strides have certainly been made, we remain extremely concerned at two deeply institutionalised conditions that, if left unchecked, will not only prevent Malta from achieving its full national potential but will also fuel extremely serious levels of community mistrust, hatred and poverty.
Firstly, Malta’s governance institutions are largely failing to fulfil their roles of preventing and addressing abuses of political and administrative power. It is shameful that the entities entrusted by the nation to ensure justice, fairness, efficiency and democratic process – the public service, the judiciary, administrative tribunals, the police and armed forces, and state agencies – are consistently used as extensions of political party clubs or recruitment agencies.
Competence, experience, and expertise are seemingly irrelevant, when compared to voting preferences, family connections and personal friendships. These appointments, blatantly based on favouritism, deny access to an effective justice system, to protection from law enforcement agencies and to an efficient public service.
Stripped of their monitoring roles and independence, our institutions are easily overcome by ministers and parliamentarians who refuse to step aside when faced with serious allegations of corruption, favouritism, fraud and other forms of political misconduct.
Secondly, Malta’s educational institutions have failed to create a nation that actively questions, that expects better of its ministers and parliamentarians, that has a notion of common good, that is not complacent in the face of impunity. The values underpinning successful democracies – critical thought, active citizenship, mutual learning and understanding, social responsibility, community cohesion and human rights – have long been absent from school, college and university curricula and methodologies.
Together with the academic gaps this has created, we have a severe lowering of democratic expectations, where glittering and at times irresponsible electoral promises replace long-term commitments that aim to better the entire nation for the common good.
Whilst we are aware of the probability that this message may, contrary to our intent, be read in red, blue, orange or green, or that it could be misconstrued by those having ideologies to the left or right of our own, we nonetheless stand firmly by our assertion that something is truly rotten in the state of Malta.
We therefore strongly urge:
- The President of the Republic to offer her good offices for the implementation of a true Constitutional reform that will rebuild the nation from its grass roots, with strong and independent democratic institutions that are capable of effectively ensuring the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights;
- Members of Government and Members of Parliament to commit to a governance approach that is built on transparency, inclusivity and accountability;
- Individuals and communities to avoid complacency and to expect more and better from any Government of the day and from Parliament, to require from them the most impeccable conduct and, where this fails, to insist on their immediate resignation or removal.
aditus foundation is an independent, voluntary and non-profit organisation established with a view to monitor, act and report on access to fundamental human rights by individuals and groups. We believe in the universality, interdependence and indivisibility of all human rights and strive to promote their rights-based understanding & application.
Integra Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in Malta, operating independently of any political, economic or religious affiliation at a global level. The Foundation’s vision is that of supporting inclusive, non-discriminating and non-disabling societies, where all individuals have the right to human dignity, freedom, respect and social justice. Our mission is that of facilitating the space for marginalised individuals and groups to be listened to and to have an active and meaningful say in their lives and well-being on their own terms.
The Critical Institute is a non-profit organisation set up and run by academics and activist practitioners. It offers a democratic and interdisciplinary platform to debate, learn and collaborate on world class critical research, teaching and practice. We engage in practice that actively questions and confronts inequalities and oppression.