Updated | PN warns against political interference as police force marks anniversary

The Nationalist Party salutes police force on 200th anniversary but warns that political interference puts rule of law at risk, home affairs minister says he'll stray away from political bickering

Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi warned that the police force should not be used as a partisan tool
Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi warned that the police force should not be used as a partisan tool

Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi today thanked current and retired police officers for their sterling work as the corps is today celebrating its 200th anniversary.

However, the opposition MP warned that the police must not be used as a “partisan tool” by government, stressing the vital role the force plays in the country’s democratic development.

Azzopardi saluted all officers who contributed towards developing “a modern force and the prime tool in securing freedom, justice and the rule of law.”

In clear reference to recent turbulence in the police’s leadership, Azzopardi said “in these 200 years we have learnt that professionalism and integrity are essential for the country’s democratic development and security.”

The MP also saluted officers who died or suffered injuries in the line of duty, adding that the country needed to learn from its errors, such as when the police force was fraught with political interference and when officers committed abuse and injustices instead of offering protection to all citizens.

“It would be an error to forget the force’s past, when persons were tortured, framed and murdered at the Police HQ.”

Azzopardi said that political interference in the police force puts at risk the rule of law and democracy, adding that events over the past 14 months have been “saddening.” Underlining the vindictive transfers the “humiliation” suffered by officers who served as waiters at a government function and the decision to stop proceedings against a man who assaulted police officers, the MP said “it is also regrettable that on its 200th anniversary, the corps is being run by an Acting Commissioner after the forced resignation of the previous commissioner.”

Insisting that the force should not be used as a “political tool,” he added that the prime minister had a duty to guarantee the corps’ dignity and ensure that all citizens are equal before the law.

Wishing the acting commissioner Ray Zammit well, the opposition MP warned that while the PN will back efforts to strengthen the force, it would defend whoever falls victim of abuse of power.

Minister strays away from political bickering

In a statement marking the police force’s anniversary, home affairs and national security minister Manuel Mallia acknowledged the officers’ efforts in fighting criminality and serving all citizens in the country.

“Government has long-term plans for the force, and although progress achieve in recent months, there is much more to do and the minister calls for unison.”

The statement added that Mallia would stray away from political bickering and instead “look forward” and strive towards a national consensus and “replace dejection with enthusiasm” within the force.

Listing a number of changes achieved in recent months, including the creation of the Rapid Intervention Unit, the inauguration of new police stations and the granting officers the right to unionise, Mallia said “government will continue listening as it has been doing for months” and ensure the police force moves forward.

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