Police chief appointment ‘should send a sign’

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia urged the government to send a sign that it was seeking a return to normality by accepting his party’s proposal to appoint a new police commissioner through the vote of two-thirds of parliament.

Speaking in parliament, Delia insisted that the Maltese wanted a sign “that this country is normal, that justice is served, that everyone can feel safe in their own homes.”

At present, the appointment of police commissioners is at the Prime Minister’s discretion, but the practice has been condemned Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, which focuses on democratic and constitutional reforms.

Government taking people for a ride

However, Delia insisted that the government’s proposals – which would see the Public Service Commission shortlist two candidates who are ranked by Cabinet, with the top choice subject to the approval of the Public Appointments Committee – would change little. He argued that this system did not respect the spirit of the Venice Commission’s recommendation and keep the Prime Minister out of the process.

“The government is taking people for a ride, keeping the same system with additional layers,” he said, noting that each of the entities involved were ultimately controlled by the government.

The PN leader observed that the need for reform was sorely felt as a result of the actions of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who he accused of changing police chiefs until he found one ready to be an accomplice and allow criminality to flourish.

Delia appeals for consensus

The PN leader reiterated his party’s argument that the selection of other posts – such as that of the Ombudsman – by a two-thirds majority had served the country well, and argued that doing the same for a police commissioner would be step forward even in a country where things were going well.

“Let alone in a country which has just emerged from one of its biggest constitutional crises,” he said.

Delia insisted that the situation called for Parliament to put the national interest first, and recognise the huge problems that have led to the present situation. Malta needed interventions which would change a mentality which saw the strong act with impunity, he said.

Noting how the Prime Minister yesterday pledged to ensure the police would do their work – in reaction to last Monday’s tragedy in Ħamrun – he said that what needed to be done was to find a police chief who would put people’s mind at rest.

“Let us agree, and find someone who is ready to take up this burden – as this is a huge burden,” the PN leader said.