On 27 June the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution demanding that Malta show progress in fighting the culture of impunity here that allows politicians to get away with corruption and the masterminds behind Daphne’s assassination to get away with murder.
They did not give Malta a deadline within which to solve these cases. They gave Malta a deadline within which it could show it’s trying.
The resolution had a list of specific deliverables including launching an independent, public inquiry into the assassination.
It also demanded progress on the anti-corruption initiatives recommended by GRECO – the group of states against corruption – and the rule of law initiatives recommended by the Venice Commission. Crucially the rule of law initiatives include a reform on how judges are appointed and that no more judges are appointed until a proper reform is implemented. The reform must follow open and comprehensive consultation.
Finally, the resolution gives the job of following up and reporting on progress made by Malta to Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt.
On the 2nd July, less than a week after the resolution was adopted, Pieter Omtzigt summarised the main deliverables in a letter he sent to Manuel Mallia who heads the Malta government MPs’ delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
He reminded him in the letter that the deadline to implement or show progress on the changes demanded by the Council of Europe was set for 26 September, three months after the adoption of the resolution.
When do you think Manuel Mallia replied? You’ve guessed it: 26 September, the last possible day. And does he have any progress to report? Basically, fuck all.
The Council of Europe resolution demands that the Egrant inquiry report is published. Manuel Mallia says that the matter is in the courts and the government is helpless. Which is bullshit, because the matter is only in the courts because the government refused to publish the inquiry report in the first place. It’s a logical loop. So, response number 1 is ‘fuck you, we don’t care what the Council of Europe says’.
The second point was demanding a report on progress on the recommendations of the Venice Commission and GRECO. Manuel Mallia says he’d rather reply to those entities directly – which of course the government has to, but that’s no reason to ignore the demands of the Parliamentary Assembly, the political body and heart and soul of Europe’s human rights organisation. Needless to say, this has a lot to do with the fact that the government has no progress to report on implementing anti-corruption measures. They’ve done fuck all. And they’ll keep doing fuck all because anything else risks getting to Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, Chris Cardona, Edward Scicluna and so on. So, response number 2 is ‘fuck you, we don’t care what the Parliamentary Assembly says’.
The third point was demanding that no judges are appointed until the system is reformed because in the view of the Parliamentary Assembly our judicial appointments system does not amount to judicial independence. Manuel Mallia replies that Malta adopted its judicial appointments system in 2016 and all parliament approved it at the time. That system is better than the one we had before.
All that can be true but what we have is still short of a proper democratic system. Read this great article in today’s Times of Malta that explains what “meltdown” our judicial system will face if the government remains stubborn on this point until our own courts or the European Court of Justice decide to rule in the sense that they agree with the Council of Europe. Manuel Mallia’s response is, one day we’ll change this but until then we’ll keep choosing the judges we like. Response number 3 is ‘fuck you, we don’t care what the Council of Europe says or even what our very own courts might say’.
The fourth point was demanding that something is done about the culture of impunity in this country. You know the drill by now: nothing is done about the Panama Papers, about the hospitals’ sales scandal, about passports sold to crooks and their descendants in perpetuity, and so on.
“I disagree with this very patronising view that Malta’s law enforcement and judicial authorities have fostered ‘a climate of impunity’,” Manuel Mallia haughtily retorts. “It may be pertinent to point out,” he goes on, “in view of the continued negative outlook by your goodself, that international institutions of repute have, inter alia, classified Malta positively in terms of its fight against money laundering.” He is quoting the Basel Institute of Governance index which is ok, I guess.
But given that he’s answering on 26 September to a letter written on 2 July, Manuel Mallia has the advantage of hindsight knowledge of the Council of Europe’s own Moneyval report on Malta’s anti-money laundering efforts. When Pieter Omtzigt was writing his 2 July letter Moneyval had not reported yet.
Moneyval’s findings show that the Council of Europe’s concerns are anything but patronising. Response number 4 is ‘fuck you, we don’t care what the Council of Europe or its Moneyval says.’
The fifth point was demanding progress on indicting the alleged assassins who are believed to have killed Daphne Caruana Galizia and apprehending the people who hired them. Manuel Mallia has some progress to report here. At last, the three alleged assassins have indeed been indicted.
On apprehending the masterminds all Manuel Mallia has to say is “the investigations continue”. Do they, though? In November 2018 – almost a year ago – the police minister said the police were spraying WD40 on their handcuffs because they were about to click them around the wrists of the masterminds of this murder. Nothing happened since then.
Have any of the three alleged assassins asked to turn state’s evidence? Has the intermediary of the commission of this crime been identified? Have any further arrests been made? Response number 5 is ‘fuck you, it’s not like we’re going to tell you what we’re doing about this.’
The sixth point was demanding an independent, public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and here too Manuel Mallia had some very fresh progress to report.
Just before the deadline expired the government published terms of reference and nominated members of a board to conduct the inquiry it never wanted to do. Manuel Mallia, presumably working on a draft of the letter written earlier on the assumption that no inquiry would be held, lists again the government’s ‘reasons’ for not having it at all.
Then in an irreconcilable contradiction he goes on to say that we are having an inquiry anyway. Manuel Mallia claims that “the government has over the last months engaged with the Council of Europe as to how a public inquiry can be held”. With whom? The letter shows that certainly they have not had a discussion – frank or otherwise – with the rapporteur appointed to follow this case by nothing less than the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly.
“The requirements of paragraph 8 of Resolution 2293(2019) have been fulfilled within the stipulated time,” Manuel Mallia says at the end of his response.
Pieter Omtzigt replied yesterday when reporting on his findings about what happened in the last three months to the legal and human rights committee of the Council of Europe. His response to Manuel Mallia was “fuck you, you haven’t fulfilled the requirements of the resolution at all”. This is not an independent, public inquiry and the very least you could have done before announcing it is pretend to consult the family of the victim.
Ma tarax! Eddie Privitera writing in Times of Malta today accurately reflects the attitude of the government. The notion that the family ought to actually have a right to be consulted on the composition and terms of reference of the inquiry that investigates their mother’s death is, as they see it, preposterous.
And you can see why from all the trolling on Facebook because the second anniversary of Daphne’s killing is coming up. More and more say again and again that they think Daphne’s sons killed their mother. It fits into the diabolical narrative that their party and their government has given them. Like mediaeval inquisitors the case is solved neatly: the devil did it.
We can’t accept this. You can’t accept this. On 16 October we must give this government our answer: “Fuck you, we won’t take this anymore”.