The government’s silence on this matter appears to be motivated by changes it has recently introduced to the manner of appointing the Police Commissioner. The government appears to expect no one to notice the elements of the recommendations made by the Commission that have been left out in the changes that are currently being implemented.
26. Although a public competition for the role of police commissioner has indeed been introduced, the Prime Minister has retained more than the mere veto on the nominee selected by the process. The Prime Minister has actually retained discretion on selection from the short list identified by the process.
As we have argued above, in respect of the government’s response to recommendations on the manner of appointing judges, we fail to understand the reasons given for the government’s reluctance to cede its control on this choice.
27. Also, as explained earlier, this process is governed by the Public Service Commission that is appointed at the unhindered discretion of the Prime Minister, making the process essentially a front for the cruder but equally discretionary process of appointing all previous holders of this position at the whim of the Prime Minister.
Furthermore, a probationary period of one year has been introduced in the job description for the Police Commissioner, during which time dismissal without cause remains within the discretion of the executive. There is no way that such a prolonged period of probation – with potential dismissal without cause – can amount to any autonomy of function.
This must be seen in the context of the willingness of the government to use all discretion available to it to ensure impunity for its senior officials. Suffice it to recall that Police Commissioner John Rizzo was removed to prevent the prosecution of former EU Commissioner John Dalli. Following this, resignations, early retirements and replacements followed in quick succession to protect a Minister’s chauffeur who used his side arm in a traffic altercation and, more seriously, to allow Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit reports of money laundering by senior political figures to be suppressed.
This revolving door abuse will remain possible and absolutely within the discretion of the Prime Minister as long as the Prime Minister does the firing within 12 months of the hiring.
28. Neither the Commission’s recommendations, nor the government’s response or actions in the last several years, begin to address:
- the partisan politicisation of the top positions in the police force – a political pogrom was undertaken after the March 2013 elections
- the infiltration of organised crime in the top levels of the police – the head of the criminal investigation department was found, after retiring with full pension benefits, to have been socially intimate with the person his department considered as the prime suspect in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia
- the intentional under-resourcing of the Police Department particularly in areas such as financial and economic crimes, bribery and corruption.