Owen Bonnici must go – Manuel Delia

Malta's Justice Minister Owen Bonnici talks to the media outside the Parliament in Valletta, Malta, December 2, 2019. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Civil society activist Manuel Delia criticised the Prime Minister, saying “Robert Abela will retain a minister humiliated by a court for breaching the fundamental right to free expression.” Manuel Delia said this in a statement to the press after comments Minister Owen Bonnici reacted to the court decision upholding the right to maintain a memorial for Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Manuel Delia said that while still in office Minister Bonnici can continue giving the impression that he acted properly and avoid facing the consequences of the illegal acts he ordered and committed. Delia added that the repetition of these illegal acts becomes more likely.

In comments to journalists, Owen Bonnici said he was “always within the law” in respect of the protest site in front of the court building in Valletta. Delia said that Owen Bonnici is missing the point of the court’s decision.

Court rules against former Justice Minister

On Thursday Manuel Delia won a constitutional case against Justice minister Owen Bonnici and the Director-General responsible for public cleaning, over the removal of the makeshift memorial to slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in front of the law courts in Valletta. The court found that Owen Bonnici personally breached the fundamental human right to freedom of expression. On the same day, during a press conference in Valletta, Manuel Delia said that the position of Minister Owen Bonnici is no longer tenable.

“He may have thought he was doing what was best, as he told journalists today but as the court told him, he was acting illegally and sowing division in the country,” said Manuel Delia.

Delia insisted that when Owen Bonnici said he ordered the daily removal of the memorial to bring unity in the country, Manuel Delia explained how Minister Bonnici instead showed complete contempt for the law and for human rights.

He also stressed the point that Owen Bonnici’s excuse that “the court’s decision is somehow to his credit because institutions work is unacceptable.”

Manuel Delia in his statement, which was also published on manueldelia.com. said that there is something disturbing in what Robert Abela said on Thursday about his decision upon his appointment to stop the suppression of protest organized by civil society.

“He said he saw where the judgement of this case was going to. How did he see that? How does the prime minister know ahead of time what a judge is preparing in his sentence? Has someone from the judge’s office leaked the information to the prime minister? So much for separation of powers” – Manuel Delia wrote.

Activist Manuel Delia concluded his statement by saying that Prime Minister Robert Abela will retain in his cabinet a minister who was humiliated by a court of constitutional jurisdiction for the breaching of fundamental right to free expression.