Damning Council of Europe report on Malta approved by large majority

A number of amendments to the report put forward by the Maltese government were rejected

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has approved a scathing report on the rule of law in Malta
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has approved a scathing report on the rule of law in Malta

A scathing report into the rule of law in Malta and the government’s handling of the investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder has been approved by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) by a sizeable majority.

PACE brings together democratically elected Members of Parliament from the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe.

The report, which was compiled by Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt was approved with 72 votes in favour, 18 against and 3 abstentions and calls on the government to initiate a public inquiry into the murder.

Some 40 amendments to the report put forward by the government were rejected by the Council of Europe committee.

Omtzigt listed several concerns linked to the murder investigation, including the Maltese police’s failure to ask their German counterparts for information from Caruana Galizia’s laptop. The laptop had been consigned to the German police by the Caruana Galizia family several months after the murder.

Other serious concerns included "inflammatory and misleading statements by persons close to the Prime Minister" and the "possibility that the Maltese security service may have had prior intelligence about the murder plot".

However, the report also raises concerns about the fact that no criminal action was taken against Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri over the Panama Papers revelations, because it says, they enjoy the Prime Minister’s protection.

“The Assembly concludes that the rule of law in Malta is seriously undermined by the extreme weakness of its system of checks and balances. Noting that individuals such as Dr [Konrad] Mizzi, Mr [Keith] Schembri and Mr [Brian] Tonna seem to enjoy impunity, under the personal protection of Prime Minister Muscat… the Assembly considers that recent events in Malta illustrate the serious damage that can result from its dysfunctional system,” part of the report reads.

It argues that Malta still needs “fundamental, holistic reform”, highlighting the need to subject the office of Prime Minister to effective checks and balances.

The government has on its part insisted that the report is riddled with inaccuracies and that the “attempt to rush [it] through without regard to basic fact-checking betrays an attitude which is far from giving a true picture of the situation in Malta”.

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