The European Commission 2021 Rule of Law Report Country Chapter on the Rule of Law Situation in Malta
According to the 2021 Rule of Law Report Country Chapter on the Rule of Law Situation in Malta, Malta has made significant progress within the domestic justice system particularly with regard to the reform of judicial appointments and judicial discipline, and also the appointment of the Chief Justice, in fact the level or perceived independence has increased and this in view of enhancing judicial independence and subsequently facilitating access to justice. The main legislative changes that addressed these issues were highlighted in another post Venice Commission: regrets that 6 Bills adopted before opinion could be finalised, before it could engage with the national stakeholders.
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.
Strengthening Access to Justice for Human Rights Protection
In January 2021 aditus began working on the project Strengthening Access to Justice for Improved Human Rights Protection which has as its objective improving access to justice for individuals wishing to strengthen their human rights protection in those instances when they feel that they have been violated. This project is supported by the Active Citizens Fund (ACF) in Malta established under the specific Programme Area for Civil Society part of the EEA Financial Mechanism 2014-2021.
In several of our earlier projects, alone and also with several other NGO colleagues, we identified institutional obstacles to effective to justice for human rights protection. These obstacles have also been identified by several esteemed reports and research, including by the Venice Commission, the European Parliament, the European Commission and in the Vanni Bonello report on Malta’s justice system.
We welcome the arrests and charges of last night, in particular those relating to Keith Schembri, chief of staff of disgraced Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.