Here’s a transcript of a letter received this evening by judges, lawyers and court officials, demanding that until the Attorney General or the Commissioner of Police resign or are fired the courts should stop functioning. The letter asks the legal community to take into account the Chief Justice’s own remarks that a national miscarriage of justice was underway as a result of the executive’s failure to prosecute the law with fear or favour.
Dear Judges, Magistrates, Colleagues and fellow Court Officials,
It was an honourable gesture of our Chief Justice when recently and during a delivery given ex-catedra he rose to the occasion and spoke not only for all of us but for our country when he challenged the abject level our institutions have reached over the past several years and with determination stated that the third pillar of our democracy and its Third Estate – the supreme safeguard of not only our country’s citizens but also its democracy would not tolerate any further erosion of its institutions. We all agreed with his stance. A stance taken before Mrs. Daphne Caruana Galizia was annihilated. Daphne was perhaps Malta’s foremost representative of the Fourth Estate which together with the other Three Estates has over the last one and a half centuries been acknowledged as an equal to the Three and now represents the fourth pillar of the rule of law.
Unfortunately and with deep regret I have to state that this collective courage was not shown after Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered. It is so ironic to my mind and I dare say also completely illogical that one raises one’s standard in anticipation of worse deeds to come and maintains a deafening silence after the worst possible event that could happen previous to the warning, did. This is, unfortunately what we collectively and by indifference or worse, consented to, by omission, after the deed, something we are all guilty of. The indictment we are collectively looking at as I write was not made by just anyone but indeed by Daphne’s nearest and dearest – Matthew, her son who between the lines accused us even today before Magistrate Francesco Depasquale before whom a civil libel case instituted against Daphne was being heard as accomplice in this nefarious assassination after having already accused a number of those copied in with this mail with his mother’s murder. The whole world or nearly, stood up to be counted together with those many thousands of fellow citizens who yesterday marched in protest in Valletta and in front of the Police General Headquarters with those missing in this condemnation being none other than the most important local body which has the foremost duty to stand up and be counted – the judiciary and us lawyers and fellow Court officials with the Judges and Magistrates – not in our personal capacity but ex-catedra. As the defenders of the rights of a Maltese citizen’s freedom of expression, freedom to life and limb, freedom of association and freedom to live one’s life until the day the maker decides to terminate it and not as happened to Daphne until her killers took that decision upon their shoulders, we were not there, we were absent; we were nowhere to be seen. Even the Chamber of Architects and Engineers was officially represented but not the Chamber of Advocates.
It was good that the Judges, Magistrates, fellow lawyers and who knows how many thousands of fellow citizens gave Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family their condolences and expressed their utter horror at her killing. Not so however did we do so collectively in one body and as the defenders of Daphne’s right according not only to our constitution but to our collective sense of decency. We did not stand up to be counted. We did not deign to be seen standing up to be counted; and we still don’t, as yet. I say this because during yesterday’s Valletta protest to which with so many thousands of fellow citizens I attended where I saw ne’er one single member of the judiciary, very few if any fellow colleagues who sit on the Government benches and perhaps only a small fraction of the country’s thousands of lawyers when all these had declared under oath and a squercia gola during their graduation and when obtaining their warrant and when those amongst us were appointed to the bench, that they would defend the constitution and their clients and fellow citizens in defence of their rights under the law.
Why did we not do so, yesterday, in our professional and constitutional capacity, en masse and publically after only a few days ago a fellow citizen, a wife, mother, daughter etc. was brutally murdered by cowardly criminals whose only motif for assassinating Daphne was to stop her from bringing criminals and their criminal wrong doings in the open in order that the authorities under our constitution do their duty and bring them to justice. During this protest there were scores if not hundreds of school children, university students, many of the professional classes, university lecturers, teachers, all people of good will but no hint of a member of the judiciary which our constitution appointed to defend our life, liberty and happiness. Why was not the Chamber of Advocates marching in front of the protest and leading it? It is useless, to my mind to declare in Court in the knowledge that this declaration is reported as it indeed was, in the press and our television stations political or neutral that it is wrong that the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police, having failed in their duty and on innumerable occasions, followed by a call addressed to the powers that be for an immediate and drastic change in the persons representing the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police; and to make this call for the sole reason to defend the island from further erosion of its democratic essentials and its moral fibre. The cherry on the cake is that, the day after this protest, where all the judiciary were conspicuously absent during same, we all met up this morning in business as usual mode with all the judiciary and of course us lawyers as officials of the Court together with the Judiciary performing our collective duties as though last Monday and Daphne’s murder never took place. It is a shame that we all as the institutional protectors of our democratic credentials and given our role as the foremost bastion for the protection of each and every Maltese and as the principle shield against those who undermine or even destroy those credentials or attempt to assault the rule of law have since Monday, and until this afternoon at least acted with such crass indifference substantially shrugging off our collective responsibility. This notwithstanding that it was not only Daphne, the person who was murdered but also the fourth estate which Daphne represented, was.
Given this, and when, if perhaps not openly but certainly deep within our individual heart and conscience, we all believe that the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General have both failed and failed terribly in standing up to be counted and to do their duty and protect the state, its citizens, democracy and the rule of law, how can we allow ourselves to act and continue to act like them, we accuse, and like them, fold our hands, do nothing about it; when we act this way and fail to act as we should, we are no better and are so obviously collectively guilty of the finger pointed at us by Matthew Caruana Galizia, that we too are accomplices in his mother’s elimination.
I therefore propose that with immediate effect – I say this should start tomorrow – we all brace hands and declare that until the Prime Minister either calls for the immediate resignation of the Commissioner of Police failing which he should oust him from his position, and until he also requests the Attorney General to offer his resignation, failing which the Attorney General should be immediately impeached by Parliament with a replacement appointed by not only two thirds of the Member of the House – I would imagine if such impeachment goes through, the vote in the House would be taken unanimously – we will declare and act on our declaration – that the Courts would cease to function until this goes through. It is only if we act in this manner or similarly, that we would count and stand up to be counted.
The new Commissioner of Police shall be a person who enjoys the confidence of each citizen as duly represented in Parliament by the persons we elected; ditto with the new Attorney General. It is by acting in this manner, I believe, we could effectively bring upon a gradual and progressive diminution of the constitutional crisis we presently face with the nightmare now becoming a reality. Refusing to act or failing to act now and with vigour, might well bring ruin to all and sundry; “imbagh’d… ma jiswa xejn tibki l-warrani”. I have absolutely no doubt that once we all love our island and would do everything to recoup what we have just lost, or nearly, we should all seriously consider this suggestion which cannot in any way be considered as politically motivated or anything new to what we have all expressed previously and boldly both viva voce and in writing.
Finally it is wrong and wrong in the most absolute manner that one calls or continue to call, at least at this stage, for the resignation also of the country’s Prime Minister who was elected only a few months ago by a substantial percentage of the populace in accordance with the rules of democracy and the rule of law. To continue to call for the Prime Minister’s resignation so close to Monday last will only serve to bring further friction, animosity and I dare say hatred between fellow citizens of this island on different sides of the divide, something this that we should all seek to avoid with immediate effect. I am sending this email now in order that it might be read, reflected upon and deliberated conscientiously and solely with the intention that we might successfully seek to obtain a reasonable escape route from this unhappy impasse.