Venice Commission welcomes legislative reforms; recommends wider consultation with civil society

kolonni_bandiera_qorti

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Venice Commission welcomed the implementation of the proposals for legislative reform as an important step in the right direction. In a report published on Friday, the Venice Commission said that in general, the ten implementation acts faithfully translate the proposals made by the Maltese Government. The Maltese government had presented 10 bills as the government seeks to implement the reforms it had proposed to the Venice Commission.

Three of the bills are aimed at amending the Constitution of Malta, with one introducing the requirement of a two-thirds vote in Parliament to elect the President. The other seven bills amend various other laws, with one amending the procedure in which appointments to the Permanent Commission Against Corruption are made. Another provides for judicial review of decisions taken by the Attorney General – including a decision not to prosecute.

The Venice Commission however noted how while the submission of the ten bills to Parliament could have triggered a structured dialogue with all stakeholders, which was recommended by the Commission, the rushed adoption of these important constitutional changes cut short wider consultations in society.

The Venice Commission said it regrets to say that six out of ten Bills have been adopted before the requested opinion could be finalised.

The Commission emphasized on the importance of a transparent, inclusive and deliberative legislative process and recommended that the remaining four bills and any further amendments be discussed in a wider framework also with civil society.

As concerns the six Acts already adopted unanimously by the House of Representatives the Venice Commission recommended 9 amendments whereas for the four Bills still pending in Parliament, 4 amendments have been proposed.

The Venice Commission has also reminded the Maltese government of previous recommendations whiach are not yet been taken up;

  • the need to transfer all prosecution, including for summary offences, to the Attorney General as soon as possible
  • the recommendations in respect of erga omnes effect of Constitutional Court judgments, obliging the Parliament to repeal/amend provisions found unconstitutional within a limited time-frame;
  • the recommendations in respect of Parliament, notably providing sufficient research capacity for individual MPs, independent legal advice for MPs and ensuring that backbench MPs are made less dependent from government posts;
  • the recommendations in respect of specialised tribunals to provide for access to court

As concerns the six adopted Acts, the Commission recommends the Maltese government to deal with them without delay, rather than them being left to the future Constitutional Convention, which is called to look into wider constitutional issues.

Govt thanks the commission and takes note of the recommendations

In his first reaction, Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis said that the Venice Commission report is another positive report recognizing government’s efforts for the judicial reform, enhancing anti-corruption framework and introducing more effective checks & balances in favour of an even stronger democratic system.

Imħabbra l-Opinjoni finali tal-Kummissjoni Venezja dwar l-għaxar riformi Istituzzjonali u Kostituzzjonali li qed iwettaq…

Posted by Edward Zammit Lewis on Friday, October 9, 2020

Venice Commission has taken note of lack of consultation – Repubblika

The Venice Commission has taken note that the process has been hurried off without consulting with civil society and the independent press in Malta, Repubblika said. following the publication of the report.

The anti-corruption NGO maintained that the government is now being asked to correct these shortcomings.

In its reaction, Repubblika warned the government that such amendments to the constitution is unacceptable if it is carried out without a public consultation process. The NGO insisted that the government should immediately seek dialogue with civil society to ensure that no more time is wasted on incomplete reforms which would endanger democracy and the rule of law.

Labour-led administration has damaged Malta’s reputation – Opposition

Partit Nazzjonalista said that the newly published report by the Venice Commission confirmed once again that the Labour-led government has damaged the rule of law in Malta and tarnished the country’s reputation.

In a statement by shadow minister for good governance Karol Aquilina, the Opposition insisted that the government could no longer procrastinate and should carry out the necessary reforms to strengthen the institutions and repair the damage done to Malta’s reputation over seven years.

The Opposition underlined that the Government should consult and enter into dialogue not only with the Opposition but as well as with civil society which has put forward a great number of valid proposals.

The Opposition lambasted the government for insisting on holding its ground instead of engaging the various stakeholders in a proper consultation process.

Aquilina stated that the Opposition will continue working inside and outside of the House of Representatives to ensure that the rule of law is upheld.