[WATCH] Labour candidate says victims of crime must not be forgotten in right to forget rules

Xtra on TVM News Plus | Labour and Nationalist politicians debate right to forget rules, the Speaker and parliamentary standards

Labour candidate Rebecca Buttigieg
Labour candidate Rebecca Buttigieg

Rules that allow the court director to remove judgments from online databases must always keep in mind the victims of crime, Labour candidate Rebecca Buttigieg said.

Rules have to distinguish between different crimes based on how serious they are, she said on TVM News Plus's Xtra on Monday.

“I believe crimes such as domestic violence and abuse should be excluded,” she said, adding that cases involving young people who would have committed minor crimes should be given the chance to have their names removed.

Buttigieg was reacting to the legal notice introduced last week by Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis that gives unfettered power to the director of the law courts to delete judgments from the public website.

The minister subsequently said that guidelines would be published to ensure the right to forget can be exercised with caution.

The Opposition has filed a parliamentary motion asking for the legal notice to be withdrawn after several media organisations and lobby groups, including the Institute for Maltese Journalists, objected to the rules.

READ ALSO: PN files motion to repeal court director powers to delete judgements

Buttigieg insisted that the victims of crime “must always be kept in mind” when such decisions are made.

Nationalist MP Karol Aquilina, who along with Therese Comodini Cachia, is piloting the Opposition’s motion to repeal the legal notice, said justice not only has to be done but has to be seen being done.

“Our legal system is a public one… judges have to deliver sentences in open court because it also ensures they are held accountable. If judgments go missing, the element of publicity disappears,” Aquilina said.

The programme also touched on the recent controversy involving Speaker Anglu Farrugia and the Opposition’s request for a parliamentary debate on his behaviour.

The Opposition was critical after Farrugia penned a meek letter to Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar, despite the committee having agreed to reprimand her.

During the debate, the Opposition proposed revamping the Standards Committee to have it chaired by someone from outside parliament chosen by a two-thirds majority.

Comodini Cachia said in the programme that MPs on the committee today end up defending their own colleagues.

“Our democracy needs to continue maturing and to do so we have to introduce a backbone where there is none,” she said.

But government Whip Glenn Bedingfield said the latest ruckus erupted because the Opposition disagreed with the Speaker’s course of action.

He insisted the Speaker gave at least 35 rulings that favoured the Opposition throughout the legislature.

“We cannot change things simply because a decision is not to our liking … the Opposition’s proposals are instigated by a decision they did not like,” Bedingfield said, adding that institutions have to be respected always.