The government this morning presented what has been described as a set of revolutionary proposals aimed to improve the administration of justice.
Addressing a press conference this morning, the chairman of the commission appointed by the government to carry out a holistic review of the justice system, Judge Giovanni Bonello, said the commission tackled the more urgent issues in this first report, and is to produce a second one by the end of July.
Following a second public consultation, a document with the complete proposals will be put forward for the consideration of the government in October.
The parliamentary secretary for justice, Owen Bonnici, said that the justice reform is one of the priorities the government has set itself. He thanked the commission for sticking to the deadlines and hoped that the public will respond with its own suggestions.
The proposals deal with, among other things, the appointment of judges and magistrates, and the way they are promoted and trained, as well as how they are removed.
The criteria on how members of the judiciary are appointed needs to be changed, to give more preference to lawyers who work in the law courts. A Judicial Appointments Commission should be set up to recommend to the government the names of people it deems fit should be appointed judges and magistrates. The commission should be made up of six members and should be appointed by the President. There should also be a public call for applications each time a vacancy occurs.
The salaries of magistrates and judges need to be upgraded to reflect their European counterparts.
The commission is also proposing that it should not be Parliament that decides on a dismissal of a judge or magistrate, but this should be the responsibility of a disciplinary commission to be set up. The House should retain the right to ask the commission to investigate.
It also suggests the introduction of the proportionality concept when judges and magistrates are to be disciplined, so as not to exceed in punishments given for minor offences.
The commission suggests the appointment of judges to speed up the conclusion of cases that have been pending for more than 10 years and of cases that have been left for judgment for more than two years. Judgments should be given within six months of the last court hearing.
The commission is urging for the abolition of the post of judicial assistants.
The full report may be found in the link below (English version still not provided)