Civil society organisation Repubblika stated that Malta’s government has seized the institutions and has institutionalized corruption while Partit Laburista said that the Government was always transparent, as the country reacted to the Fifth Evaluation report on Malta which was published on Wednesday.
Repubblika has hit out at the government in a lengthy press statement, within hours that the Government authorized the release the findings by the Group of States Against Corruption.
The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) assessed the effectiveness of the framework in place in Malta to prevent corruption amongst persons with top executive functions, that is ministers and other senior government officials, and the Malta Police Force.
In their statement Repubblika said that Muscat’s government identified all loopholes and flaws in the legal and administrative systems it inherited and exploited it. The NGO said that the document describes a corrupt and mafia-like state of affairs which did not exist prior to Muscat’s premiership.
The NGO stated that the report is a clear message to the Malta Police Force, the employees of the Attorney General, regulators, members of the judiciary, the Commissioner for Public Standards, the Ombudsman, the Auditor General, Maltese journalists, academics, civil society and the Opposition, that the Government has seized the institutions and has institutionalized corruption.
‘A Government which acts with transparency’ – Partit Laburista
In a reaction, Partit Laburista, said that the Government found ‘no problem in authorising the publishing of the GRECO report’ claiming that this showed that the Government was ‘transparent’. In its findings, GRECO commented on the lack of transparency and made recommendations as it found access to information in Malta, problematic.
The report was adopted during the plenary held between 18-22 March, and of which local newspapers had obtained a draft copy prior to the government authorizing its publication.
The PL further said that the Government acted with transparency when it made itself available to discuss the report in the House on the same day it was published. Partit Nazzjonalista however said that the report will be discussed in the House, after a request made by PN leader and Opposition leader Adrian Delia.
Further the Party claimed, this contrasted with the Opposition leader Adrian Delia’s behaviour when he refused to publish documents he spoke of over the past days.
The PL referred also to the Government’s reform, describing them as reforms that would strengthen democracy and Malta’s rule of law. It also referred to the Government efforts to implement the recommendations, the Government received from the Venice Commission.
‘The report condemns the Government; proves the Opposition right’ -PN
Partit Nazzjonalista in a statement said that the report published on Wednesday, is another report which proves the party right. PN campaigned on anti-corruption platform under the banner Forza Nazzjonali, in the run-up to the 2017 snap election. PN said that in its findings the report found that the system was ineffective when it comes to holding persons accountable. Further the Party said that the report states the justice system in Malta risks paralysis while the institutions are inadequately resourced to carry out their functions.
The PN observed that in its findings, GRECO found that the perception was that an electoral victory prevails over law enforcement.
Partit Nazzjonalista referred to the recent damning reports published by European institutions and said that Malta is not a normal country.
The Party said that the Labour-led Government took various institutions hostage and that this was repeatedly condemned by various institutions. According to the Party, the findings reflects the various points raised by the Opposition regarding the deteriorating judicial system, lack of checks and balances among others.
The Opposition called on the Government to implement the 22 recommendations made in the GRECO report without any further delay.
‘A lot of power in the hands of politicians can lead to abuse’ – AD
Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party in its reaction to the report said that it was comforting to find that GRECO focused on the lacuna in the Maltese legal system which left a lot of power in the hands of politicians of which can lead to abuse.
The Green Party focused on a paragraph on the Security Services which are authorised by the Prime Minister himself or the Minister for Home Affairs to be able to wiretap conversations. The report recommends that ‘legislation is issued giving criminal investigation bodies the authority to seek and use special investigative techniques such as wiretaps in the investigation of corruption offences, empowering the judicial authority to authorize their use, and making the evidence obtained thereby admissible in court’.
AD then referred to its 2017 General Election manifesto where it proposed that all the institutions have adequate resources in order to carry out their functions against corruption and in favour of good governance. The Party had also proposed that the authorisation for wiretapping should fall under the responsibility of the courts rather than the ministry of the day.
Former PN MP Franco Debono in a reaction to the publication of the report, said that he had only one word to say, that Malta has turned into a ‘Muscatian jungle’.
“The criminal justice response can too easily be paralysed where political influences come into play… senior officials benefit from total impunity for their actions”
— David Casa (@DavidCasaMEP) April 3, 2019
Council of Europe finds #Malta's government – which runs a dubious #goldenvisa scheme – failing to tackle corruption and impunity. Lack of accountability for architects of murder of #DaphneCaruanaGalizia is a particularly shameful illustration. https://t.co/GwXy5DpOry
— Mike Davis (@michaelpmdavis) April 3, 2019
Malta joined GRECO 20 years ago
Malta joined GRECO 20 years ago, since then the country received 4 reports. In each report GRECO recommended that the country should improve its anti-corruption institutions and structures.