Ombudsman files judicial protest against Manuel Mallia

Investigations into complaints raised by army officers hindered by ministry’s refusal to provide the Office of the Ombudsman with the required information.

The Ombudsman, Joseph Said Pullicino, has filed a judicial protest against the Minister for Home Affairs Manuel Mallia and the ministry’s permanent secretary Kevin Mahoney over the ministry’s refusal to uphold requests for information.

The Ombudsman has been investigating complaints raised by army officers on appointments and promotions.

The investigation came to a standstill after the Home Affairs Ministry claimed the Ombudsman did not have jurisdiction to cover complaints raised by members of the Armed Forces of Malta.

Mallia has argued that, according to the AFM Act, complaints should be brought to the attention of the President of Malta by the Commander, through the Minister.

The Ombudsman is now asking the court to give a ruling on the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.

In his judicial protest, the Ombudsman argued that it was his role to defend citizens and investigate allegations of injustices and discrimination.

“The Ombudsman has to safeguard the citizens’ rights and ensure that proper and fair administration takes place,” the Office of the Ombudsman said.

The complaints with the Ombudsman were lodged in September 2013, following the promotions awarded to Majors and lieutenant colonels. Fellow army officers complained that they had unfairly lost the promotions to other officers who had less experience, fewer qualifications and lower seniority.

In the judicial protest, the Ombudsman said he was “surprised and worried” by the Ministry’s negative reaction to the investigation.