Updated: Attorney General role will be split; first legal steps due next week

DOI - Jason Borg

Update – 20.14

PN Reaction

The Opposition, in a press release signed by leader Adrian Delia, said that the government spent years resisting these reforms, even though the PN had been recommending them for years.

According to the PN, it was only when the Venice Commission named its recommendations that the government took action.

The PN promised to see to it that the recommended changes are made. The party also complained about the fact that only one recommendation will have been seen to until June.

Attorney General role will be split; first legal steps due next week

The Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici, has announced today that the government will be publishing its first legal steps in the coming days towards splitting the roles of the Attorney General.

The Minister explained that legal text would be published on March 25th which would start the process towards separating the dual prosecutorial and advisory roles of the Attorney General.

The Attorney General position has been responsible for these two roles since 1936.

It is understood that the separation will be complete by the 2020 Summer Parliamentary recess.

The decision follows the publication of legal recommendations from the Venice Commission last year which presented to the Maltese government a number of suggestions on modernizing the judicial system and equalizing the powers of different political offices.

Read more:

Venice Commission suggests creation of independent prosecutor

Venice Commission calls for revision of constitutional roles

Church open to discuss Venice Commission recommendations – Archbishop

Malta faces “prevailing ‘law of Omertà’” – Venice Commission

During the press conference, Minister Bonnici explained that the government had notified key European Commission officials including the First Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans and the Commissioner for Justice Ms Vera Jourová, of their decision.

You can read the full letter here.

Responding to the Commission’s recommendations on the reform of judicial appointments and discipline, Minister Bonnici explained that the government was supportive of the reform but that changes would ‘only be implemented through Constitutional amendments, which in turn can only be made with the approval of two-thirds of members of Parliament.’

He added that such changes would be first carried out through consultation with the Parliamentary Opposition.

Further changes

Minister Bonnici explained that in addition to the first reading next week, there is expected to be discussions over further legislative changes anticipated for the roles of Ombudsman, Civil Service: Permanent Secretaries, Civil Service: Positions of Trust, Independent Commissions and the Police.

The associated texts for these roles are also expected in coming months with the intended changes to be made through support of a two thirds majority of Parliament, by the end of 2019.