The buck stops with the PM: meaningful reform must be taken now

We do not live in a utopian world where violence is forever eradicated and serenity prevails at all times. But to have a violent partner known to the authorities and who is waiting for judicial procedures to be heard in a year’s time, who is out and about, is not on.

The public outcry after the cold-blooded murder of a mother of two children by her violent husband was predictable. 

Yet, what I find so difficult to process are the political statements. It is as if the solutions and the problems were just discovered and came as a complete surprise. 

“Not enough has been done, more needs to be done,” is the overriding message from highest echelons in politics down to the functionaries appointed by the politicians themselves to the administrative staff in the judiciary, police and agencies.

We do not live in a utopian world where violence is forever eradicated and serenity prevails at all times. But to have a violent partner known to the authorities and who is waiting for judicial procedures to be heard in a year’s time, who is out and about, is not on.

We are now way beyond raising awareness of the problems. The real problem is that the politicians who have declared over the years with much pomp and spectacle that they will address the issues and implement the reforms, either did not see the reforms through or did not succeed in implementing the solutions.

Let us take a minute and see what the problems were.

The first problem was the law. We have introduced femicide as an aggravating offence in homicide cases but there still are dark holes in the law that require addressing.

The second problem was the police. A specialised unit was set up to deal with domestic violence and abuse cases in a more caring way. It was surely a good start and yet it remains understaffed and overwhelmed, leading to long waiting times for victims like Bernice Cassar to simply file a report. Apart from this, cases are treated on a first-come-first-served basis.

And then in the courts, a magistrate was appointed to deal with these specific cases. But the COVID lockdown and teleworking from home, which meant victims spent longer hours in the presence of their abusive partners led to an explosion of domestic abuse cases making it to court. This made it humanely impossible for the one magistrate to cope.

Now we hear that another magistrate will be appointed, and as in all other cases, the simple question has to be: where in the seven heavens will these cases be physically heard? Because you should know that the courts in Valletta, built over 50 years ago are unsuitable for hearing the present case load because there simply are not enough halls.

And to compound it all is the archaic system, which governs the administration of the court and the interests of private litigation firms to prolong cases.

At the end of the day, the buck stops with the person at the top. The politician, the boss, the Prime Minister that is. And if there is going to be a reform which is meaningful, decisions will have to be taken now and not tomorrow. 

The courts today are taken up by numerous cases which can easily be transferred to other court rooms in a different locality. Defamation cases, agricultural disputes, tax irregularities, debt collection, commercial litigation and even separation cases can be moved to new court premises allowing the courts to expedite the processes of serious criminal cases.

And all this should be done to ensure that if there is a bastard who has threatened and turned someone’s life into hell, the full force of the executive and the law come raining down on them.

Needless to say, the cure of this malaise in a society which continues to display forms of abuse and cruelty can only succeed if we shake our education system and inculcate principles that are as important as achieving academic or excellent sport results.

Once again, the decision-making process and the implementation has to come from the politician, more so in a community where everyone is constantly looking behind one’s back to see what one’s political master is saying.

We have to hold them accountable to making the correct changes.


A transparency rule to give the public access to the beneficial ownership of companies has been surprisingly ruled to be invalid by the European Court of Justice.  

The Court said the access to the register for companies whose ultimate beneficial owners were hidden by trusts or nominees, was an interference that was “neither limited to what is strictly necessary nor proportionate to the objective pursued.” 

Malta operates a BO registry that gives access to undisclosed UBOs at the rate of €5 for each company. An access used by journalists and media houses to track down secretive company owners.

The 2019 anti-secrecy regulations were enacted by EU countries in recent years as a direct response to the financial improprieties disclosed by the Panama Papers, the Pandora Papers, and other similar leaks of financial data. 

And the FATF also highlighted the concern that the Malta Business Registry did not allow requests for details of the beneficial ownership.  In an effort to tick all the boxes Malta stepped down and allowed access against a fee of €5.

Now after such a dressing down from the FATF about Malta’s shabby due diligence (which is no different to that of certain European States), the ECJ has decided against transparency.

It is strange when you think about it. But then when you see the EU embracing Azerbaijan after having accused that country of human rights abuses and corruption, you can expect everything.

Yet, I wonder what bloggers like Jacques Rene Zammit, who has long been part of the ECJ’s staff, thinks about this. I am waiting earnestly to see what the blogger has to say about the agency that provides him with a very comfortable income.


Last Saturday, Jason Azzopardi, a former PN MP, stated that he would never return to the Nationalist Party as long as Bernard Grech remains leader. Azzopardi, who failed to get elected on two districts this year, also said that he had been asked by Grech not to stand as a candidate. 

Interviewed on Xtra this week Bernard Grech denied that he had ever told Azzopardi not to stand for election. He also said that before the election Azzopardi had a very different view of Grech.

I searched for some evidence of Grech’s assertion and discovered one of Jason Azzopardi’s tweets on the 28 February of this year, which reads like this in Maltese under a picture of Bernard Grech with Azzopardi: “Kemm hu għall-qalbi dan ir-ritratt li ħadt issa fil-Pjazza ta’ Raħal Ġdid ma’ Bernard Grech u Michael Piccinino. L-umanità u s-sensittività tal-Kap tal-Partit Nazzjonalista li wera fid-diskors tiegħu llejla missew ħafna qlub.”