Committee demands urgent constitutional reform in Malta, warning of ‘extremely weak checks and balances’

“The rule of law in Malta is seriously undermined by the extreme weakness of its system of checks and balances,” a committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has concluded.

Approving a report by Pieter Omtzigt (Netherlands, EPP/CD) today in Paris, PACE’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights listed a series of “major scandals” in Malta in recent years, linking them to what it called “fundamental weaknesses” in the rule of law in Malta.

In a draft resolution, the committee said certain individuals involved in these scandals seemed to “enjoy impunity, under the personal protection of Prime Minister Muscat”.

Among other things, the parliamentarians called on:

• Malta to urgently implement, in their entirety, reforms recommended by Council of Europe constitutional experts (the Venice Commission) and its anti-corruption body (GRECO);

• Malta’s Prime Minister to refrain from making further judicial appointments until the procedure has been reformed in line with Venice Commission recommendations;

• Maltese law enforcement bodies to “robustly investigate and prosecute” those involved in or benefiting from the scandals exposed by Daphne Caruana Galizia and her colleagues.

The committee also listed a series of “serious concerns” over the investigations into the journalist’s murder, and demanded the setting up of an independent public inquiry into the question within three months.