In this post we examine the Venice Commission’s Opinion CDL-AD(2020)019 on the 6 Acts adopted by the Government on the 29 July 2020. In a previous post, we examined the process undertaken by the Government whilst seeking to implement the legislative changes proposed in Opinion CDL-AD(2020)006.
It is important to note that the Acts were adopted prior to receiving the opinion of the Venice Commission which was requested by the Government itself. On 23 June 2020, the Minister for Justice transmitted 10 bills to the Venice Commission and requested an urgent opinion of the Venice Commission by no later than the end of June 2020. The Commission replied by stating that it would not prepare an opinion by way of urgency but that it would be finalised at the beginning of October 2020. On 1 July 2020 the bills were presented to Parliament for a first reading, however they were not yet in the public domain. On the 29 July 2020, the Maltese Parliament unanimously adopted 6 of the 10 bills and notified the Venice Commission of this on the 4 August 2020.
“…l-Ministri kollha individwalment min b’mod u min b’ieħor, kienu qed jissottoskirvu u javallaw id-deċiżjoni tal-Prim Ministru li jħalli kollox għaddej…illi s-sens ta’ impunitá li kien qiegħed jinħoloq proprju fil-qalba tal-amministrazzjoni kellu l-approvazzjoni siekta, jekk mhux il-barka, tal-Kabinett kollu.”
“L-assassinju kien il-mezz krudili biex titkisser is-sistema li kienet qed tnawwar id-demokrazija fil-pajjiż.”Report of the Board of Inquiry – Daphne Caruana Galizia, pg. 411, pg. 414
The Board of Inquiry’s report is an unequivocal condemnation of Malta’s democracy. It should shock the entire nation into realising that what we believed to be a functioning democracy serving the people is really a rotten apparatus set up by, and for self-serving tyrants. That Daphne Caruana Galizia’s brutal assassination was deemed necessary for Government and its business connections to continue their plundering underlines the extent of depravity ruling the country.
Today, Malta is in a terrible state. Yet we are seriously concerned that the prospects for the years to come are just as bleak, if not darker and more dangerous. The report is a stark indictment of the Maltese State turning on its own citizens, prejudicing a citizen’s right to work freely and safely, and culminating in prejudicing a citizen’s right to life.
Throughout this year we will be looking at Venice Commission Opinion CDL-AD(2020)019 adopted in October 2020 on the acts and bills that sought to implement the proposals for legislative changes which were the subject of Opinion CDL-AD(2020)006 adopted in June 2020. In this post we examine the Venice Commission’s reaction to the procedure used by the Government in adopting the first 6 Acts which are subject of the Opinion.
Backdrop: Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination
On the 8th October 2020 the Venice Commission adopted an Opinion on the ten acts and bills implementing the legislative proposals put forward by the Maltese government. This is the 4th Opinion adopted by the Commission on Malta since 2018. The process relating to the Malta’s constitutional amendments, separation of powers and independence of the judiciary kicked off in October 2018 by a request of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to the Venice Commission.
aditus foundation has presented its feedback on Malta’s Proposed Legislative Changes to the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) further to its Report on Malta published in 2018. aditus also had the opportunity to discuss its views on the proposed changes, together with other local civil society actors, with the rapporteurs of the Venice Commission.
As we have repeatedly underlined in all our advocacy efforts over the past years and in our communications with the Venice Commission and the European Parliament’s ad-hoc Delegation to Malta, our concerns are centred on a rights-based understanding of good governance, requiring a healthy and functioning rule of law to ensure the respect, protection and fulfillment of the fundamental rights of all persons living in Malta.
In our document we highlighted the importance of rolling out the much-needed reform, whilst also highlighting that any changes need to be part of a broader reform which takes into account the context of Malta’s political, media and civil society landscape that has shaped the reality that we live in today.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement and aditus welcome the proposed amendment to the constitution put forward by the opposition to widen anti-discrimination provision to include the ground of sexual orientation.
The MGRM and aditus further urge parliament to also incorporate constitutional amendments on the grounds of gender identity and expression in order to ensure that the same level of protection is afforded to transgender persons.
This is particularly important since the recent Fundamental Rights Agency LGBT survey clearly demonstrates that transgender persons report higher rates of discrimination in access to healthcare, housing and other services.
Neil Falzon, Director of aditus said: “This amendment, if approved, will have an important legal impact across all present and future legislation in Malta. Furthermore it unequivocally asserts that as a nation Malta fully endorses the principles of non-discrimination and equality, for the promotion of a society where all members are truly equal.”