Repubblika asks court to block judicial appointments

The NGO filed a judicial protest demanding a freezing of all judicial appointments and promotions ‘until measures to ensure judicial independence are properly introduced’

The NGO Repubblika has filed a judicial protest asking the courts to block the government from appointing or promoting any new members of the judiciary (File Photo)
The NGO Repubblika has filed a judicial protest asking the courts to block the government from appointing or promoting any new members of the judiciary (File Photo)

The NGO Repubblika has filed a judicial protest in court demanding that a freezing of any appointments and promotions within the judiciary until measures to ensure judicial independence are properly introduced.

“Judicial independence is not just a right for judges. It is a human right of us all, protected by the European Convention, that guarantees us fair hearing protected from political interference,” Repubblika said.

The NGO pointed to findings by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, which it said found that the government’s 2016 reforms to judicial appointments were a step in the direction, but fell short of ensuring judicial independence.

The commission stressed that judicial appointments should be free of undue political influence.

Repubblika said that since 2013, he government had “stuffed the bench with political appointees, many of them veterans of careers in the Labour Party” and had reversed an extension to the judges pensionable age to accelerate the replacement of incumbents.

It said that despite accepting the need for the reforms, it was driving ahead with its “orgy of replacements to ensure a politically-controlled judiciary”.

Repubblika said there could be no democracy without judicial independence, nor could other EU member states rely on Malta’s courts to independently implement European law.

“This is why the failure to guarantee judicial independence is a breach of European law and we are reminding the Courts they can – and should – seek a ruling from the European Court of Justice on this matter.”

The NGO acknowledged that all of Malta’s past Prime Minister’s have had the discretion in choosing judges and magistrates, but insisted that “what may have been acceptable in the past, no longer is”.

Repubblika said the government should roll out of the judicial appointments reform it has said it would be embarking on.

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