Statement by Repubblika of today:
An English version of the text of the statement follows:
Repubblika is disappointed by the reaction of the Maltese Government and Maltese institutions with regard to the appeals made by Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for more transparency in the rule of law in Malta. This reaction ranges from indifference to deprecatory comments expressing disdain for European democratic values.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is an institution which has played a leading role in the promotion of human rights and democracy since World War II up to the present and has contributed to the state of peace that has been reigning in Europe for the last seventy years. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s reaction to the resolution concerning Malta, stating that this did not deserve any attention because it was biased, or because a politician from the Opposition was consulted when it was being drawn up, is absurd and unjust.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is also made up of parliamentarians who belong to the political family of the Partit Laburista. Despite their bias and the fact that they consulted the representatives of the Partit Laburista, these parliamentarians still supported the Parliamentary Assembly’s appeals.
Malta urgently needs to implement institutional reforms in a comprehensive way, following an inclusive and transparent consultation process. We reiterate the opinions we expressed in a detailed document that we presented to the President of Malta last March, where we outlined how this transparent and inclusive consultation could take place. We are frustrated at the government’s indifference to this appeal and at the fact that it is proposing piecemeal reforms without any real consultation with civil society. This will only lead to a situation that is worse than the one at present.
In the same way, the government should ensure that when it introduces reforms under the pretext that these are in line with the Venice Commission’s proposals, it should be amply clear that government has consulted the Venice Commission with regard to the reforms it proposes.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has adopted Repubblika’s clear position with regard to the fact that no more members of the judiciary should be appointed before the necessary reforms are carried out. This issue is currently being disputed before the Maltese Courts. The government has argued in court that this issue does not fall under the competence of the courts, but of politicians. If the government is right, then it is responsible for immediately following the instructions of the Council of Europe.
The Assembly has endorsed Repubblika’s plea to the Maltese institutions to do their duty and not to allow any criminals wielding political power evade the law. This plea was not addressed to the government: it is a plea to the inquiring Magistrates, to the Attorney General, to the Police, to the FIAU…. to all those who are dragging their feet by their long delays and the legalistic excuses that have been brought up, and by shutting one or both eyes to the fact that they are allowing Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi evade the law. Because of this, a new culture has been introduced whereby if you are a friend of Joseph Muscat, you can do whatever you like.
This is the context in which the Council of Europe has called for an independent inquiry into the circumstances concerning the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The normal course of justice has failed because of our country’s institutional failure. All those who lead the following institutions have to shoulder responsibility for this failure: the police, public officials, members of the judiciary, as well as Joseph Muscat himself.
Meanwhile, the institutional breakdown of our Parliamentary Opposition has meant that a resolution as serious as that taken by the Council of Europe concerning Malta, has fallen on deaf ears. The Opposition is completely taken up by its long drawn-out internal crisis, and the serious immediate needs of the country are being completely put aside.
The Council of Europe ended this resolution by calling for urgent action by the Maltese government and Maltese institutions without concluding that there should be a safeguard mechanism from abroad about what is going on in Malta.
This is due to the fact that Malta presents itself as a functioning democracy.
Malta has the opportunity to persuade the rest of the world that we are able to address our problems by implementing the recommendations that were made to us. Apart from a truly independent inquiry into the circumstances of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, a serious constitutional reform must be carried out and criminal action must be taken against the criminals who have clung on to political power in Malta.
The citizens of Malta are the only ones who can put in place the necessary safeguards to ensure that these changes are indeed carried out. If another year passes and we are obliged to face the Council of Europe and the world with the news that we were unable to fulfil what the resolution requested us to do, or that we have fallen behind in fulfilling it, we will lose any shred of credibility that we may still have.
We are already feeling the consequences. The actions taken by Joseph Muscat’s Government and the failure of the very institutions that are supposed to stand up to him have led to Malta acquiring the reputation of a country that harbours organised crime and corruption.
A Maltese bank was shut down by the European Central Bank. Another is being closely monitored and is under serious threat of closure. The possible consequences of this threat on the livelihood of Maltese and Gozitans are enormous, and almost no one is fully aware of the concerns resulting from the general illusion that we are living in the best of times, a false assertion that is in no way contested by our Parliamentary Opposition.
Consequently, Repubblika is addressing the citizens of Malta by means of our free press which informs them about all the sectors of civil society that represent them and about the persons who salaries are paid by the Maltese to lead the institutions that are supposed to protect them. Repubblika is appealing to the Maltese so that month after month, week after week, and day after day they may insist on ensuring that the reforms that the Council of Europe is demanding are carried out properly and without any delay.
We reiterate our commitment to insist, with all our might, that this process takes place.