Judicial review of AG decisions not to prosecute implemented

Clifton Fenech (DOI)

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Two reforms concerning the role of the Attorney General have formally been implemented through the publication of two legal notices.

One of the legal notices implemented transfers responsibility for the prosecution of major crimes from the police to the Attorney General.. To prepare for the increased responsibility, the Office of Attorney General has carried out a recruiting exercise in recent weeks, adding some 15 lawyers to its ranks.

The eventual aim is for the AG to assume responsibility over all prosecutions, leaving the police responsible for the investigation of crimes.

The second legal notice concerns the introduction of judicial review in cases where the AG decides not to prosecute. Anyone who questions such decisions may file an appeal.

Both reforms form part of a series of institutional reforms launched in the wake of a damning report on the rule of law in Malta by the Venice Commission, a Council of Europe body whose official name is the European Commission for Democracy through Law.

The government had presented 10 bills, of which a number amend the constitution, and following a last-minute compromise addressing the most contentious elements, secured consensus over the six which have been debated in Parliament so far.

Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis spoke on the two legal notices in the visit to the Office of the Attorney General, which has moved to newly-restored premises.

He insisted that the reforms would not only strengthen the rule of law, but also help boost Malta’s reputation overseas.