Six new magistrates needed for courts to function well, judiciary association says

The Association of Judges and Magistrates says six new appointments are required to increase the pool of magistrates • Four new judges sworn in

The Association of Judges and Magistrates wants magistrates
The Association of Judges and Magistrates wants magistrates

The Association of Judges and Magistrates is arguing that six new magistrates need to be appointed in order to ensure an effective and efficient criminal judicial process.

The six magistrates would replace two magistrates who were today appointed judges, and another magistrate who has since retired.

In turn, this would provide three additional magistrates to the existing cohort.

On Thursday, the association expressed disappointment at the appointment of four new judges, as these are simply replacing another four  that have since retired since the last round of appointments. In effect, the number of judges in court have remained the same.

The association noted a similar issue with the government's recent call for four new magistrates. In reality, the cohort of magistrates will only be increasing by one, as two magistrates have since been appointed as judges, while another magistrate retired.

"The functions and duties of magistrates and the recent influx of complex and serious criminal cases being heard by the magistrates is such that a serious and effective increase in the number of magistrates is imperative in order to ensure an effective and efficient criminal judicial process," the association said in a statement.

"Unless the authorities take serious and immediate steps to increase the number of magistrates as well as provide them with adequately trained and motivated staff, no effective improvement in the judicial process concerning criminal cases will ever be seen," the organisation said.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed judges today took their oath of office. Former magistrates Audrey Demicoli and Neville Camilleri, and lawyers Christian Falzon Scerri and Ian Spiteri Bailey were sworn in during a ceremony presided by President George Vella.

Present also for the ceremony were Prime Minister Robert Abela, Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, State Advocate Chris Soler and Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti.