PN proposes draft law to appoint police commissioner by two-thirds parliamentary vote

The Nationalist Party wants the police commissioner to have security of tenure by being appointed with a two-thirds parliamentary majority rather than chosen by the prime minister

The PN wants the police commissioner to have security of tenure
The PN wants the police commissioner to have security of tenure

The police commissioner should be appointed by a two-thirds parliamentary majority after being grilled by MPs, the Nationalist Party is proposing. 

The change aims to remove the prime minister’s sole discretion in appointing the police commissioner, while giving the police chief security of tenure.

The PN proposal says the police commissioner can only be removed from his post after a two-thirds parliamentary majority approves a motion to this end.

The draft law was presented to the Speaker by the Opposition on Monday. It was signed by Opposition leader Adrian Delia, deputy leader David Agius, and MPs Jason Azzopardi, Beppe Fenech Adami, Chris Said, Karol Aquilina and Robert Cutajar.

The PN had initially proposed such a system to appoint the police commissioner during the previous legislature. This is the first time that a Bill has been put forward.

The PN urged Prime Minister Robert Abela to accept the proposal and ensure it is approved by parliament in the shortest time possible.

“We urge the government not to leave this draft law sitting on the shelf, but make sure that it is introduced in parliament’s agenda as quickly as possible… the Opposition is willing to discuss this law as early as next week,” Delia said.

The draft makes no provision in the eventuality that parliament fails to agree on a name, in which case the constitutional deadlock could leave the country with no police commissioner for weeks and possibly months.

The Prime Minister has said that Cabinet will today be considering a new method of appointment for the police commissioner, however, during the leadership campaign, Abela had rejected the idea of having a two-thirds majority vote to appoint the police chief.

Abela had said that he would consult with the Opposition and try to seek consensus on a name but also proposed having the chosen candidate submit to the scrutiny of MPs in the public appointments committee.

PN’s proposal for appointing police commissioner

Method of appointment

• The person nominated to be police commissioner must first get clearance from the parliamentary committee that scrutinises public appointments, where the individual is grilled by MPs.

• After obtaining clearance from the committee, Parliament will have to vote on a resolution to recommend approval. This resolution will have to get the backing of a two-thirds majority. Only after Parliament approves such a motion can the Prime Minister appoint the police commissioner.

Method of removal

• The police commissioner can only be removed by the President after Parliament approves a motion for removal with a two-thirds majority. Removal should be based on proven incapacity to perform duties because of mental or physical sickness, or proven bad behaviour.

• Police Commissioner should be appointed by the Prime Minister after a parliamentary resolution that obtains a two-thirds majority, and after the individual gets clearance from the parliamentary committee on public appointments.

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