Malta seeks help from Council of Europe body to review institutional structures

The Justice ministry said it wanted to update law enforcement, investigation and prosecution setups to ensure compliance with common European standards

The government said it was open to bona-fide dialogue with international institutions to further implement reforms for a better justice system
The government said it was open to bona-fide dialogue with international institutions to further implement reforms for a better justice system

Malta is requesting the assistance of an advisory body of the Council of Europe in a process of Constitutional reform intended to upgrade Malta’s law enforcement, investigation and prosecution setups, the Justice ministry said on Friday.

In a statement, it said that Justice minister Owen Bonnici had written to the president of the Venice Commission, a body composed of independent experts in constitutional law, for its input, in a bid to “ensure compliance with common European standards and approaches”.

“Over the last months the law enforcement, investigation and prosecution setups of Malta have been the object of criticism alleging that they lack effectiveness and independence,” Bonnici said in his letter to Gianni Buquicchio, commission’s president.

“These structures are not based on a model which is unique to Malta, but Malta is open to a process of Constitutional reform which may update these structures as may be necessary in order to ensure compliance with common European standards and approaches.”

In light of this, the government said it would like to seek the assistance of the Venice Commission “in particular to conduct a review of Malta’s legal and institutional structures” in order to “secure proper checks and balances, and the independence and neutrality of those institutions and their staff.

This, it said, would also ensure their effectiveness and democratic accountability.

The government said that the letter followed a meeting between the government of Malta and a representation of the LIBE committee at the European Parliament last month.

It noted that since coming to power, the Labour government had implemented “a substantial number of reforms were undertaken to strengthen the rule of law”.

These included the removal of time-barring on claims of corruption by holders of public office, whistle-blower protection, party financing legislation, parliamentary oversight of appointments to regulatory authorities, the appointment of a judicial appointments committee, and reforms in the field of artistic and journalistic freedom of expression.

The government also noted that Malta had also joined the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.

“The government is open to bona-fide dialogue with all international institutions to implement further reforms for a better justice system and a stronger rule of law,” the ministry said.  

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