The Malta Independent 20 March 2019, Wednesday

Venice Commission report focuses on laws and systems implemented years back - government

Friday, 14 December 2018, 15:58 Last update: about 4 months ago

A draft opinion by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission focuses on laws and systems that were passed or implemented years back, and not about laws introduced by this administration, the government said in a statement.

The draft report, a copy of which was seen by this newspaper, said the wide powers of appointments that the Prime Minister - as an office - enjoys, make this institution too powerful and create a serious risk to the rule of law.

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It also recommended that the AG’s powers be split, and said that reforms started by this government were not sufficient and that positions of trust should be limited.

In a statement, the government said it has taken note of the European Commission for Democracy through Law’s (Venice Commission) draft opinion. The government said will give its reaction when the commission issues the final document.

“The commission is preparing an opinion about the constitutional framework, the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary and the institutions that enforce the law in Malta.”

 “The government notes that the draft opinion comments Where the draft opinion refers to laws enacted by this government, these are described as a step in the right direction.”

“The mentioned draft opinion is being compiled after requests by the Maltese Government and the Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee for Legal Affairs and Human Rights, and will be concluded in the coming days. The government will issue an official position on this opinion after the commission publishes the final report.”

Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici, representing the government, yesterday addressed the 117th Plenary Session of the Commission. The meeting, held in Venice, discussed several issues amongst which featured the draft opinion.

During his address, Minister Bonnici explained Malta’s constitutional framework, changes adopted in the constitution, and also laws enacted so as to strengthen democracy and the respect for human rights. The minister also affirmed the government’s will to continue to adopt systems and measures to further strengthen the rule of law in Malta.

During the session, the President of the Commission Gianni Buquicchio and rapporteur Martin Kuijer both had words of praise for the Government of Malta, according to the government press release.

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