The Malta Independent 26 April 2019, Friday

Judicial appointments to continue with current system until reform is implemented – Bonnici

Tuesday, 22 January 2019, 17:03 Last update: about 3 months ago

 Appointments to the judiciary under the current system will continue even while a reform focusing on these appointments is drawn up, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici said in Parliament on Tuesday.

After The Malta Independent on Sunday reported that the government will have no say in judicial appointments as part of an upcoming reform, PN MP Simon Busuttil asked Bonnici whether till that reform is carried out, judicial appointments would cease.

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To this, Bonnici replied that in the case of vacancies that may arise – three members of the judiciary are soon retiring - then these would have to be filled in spite of the fact that the proposed reform would not have come into existence yet.

Not filling these vacancies, Bonnici said, would result in the creation of a backlog and delay cases – an action which would only make citizens seeking justice suffer. He said that one of the main principles of rule of law that he believed in was justice done properly and in a suitable time.

Currently, the appointment of judges and magistrates is in the hands of a Judicial Appointments Committee which is tasked with vetting applicants and drawing up of a shortlist of applicants from which the executive will then use to appoint judges and magistrates. The committee is made up of solely independent members; the Attorney General, Chief Justice and Ombudsman all serve on it amongst others.

Speaking in an interview with this newspaper, Bonnici said that the upcoming reform – which was recommended and pushed further by the Venice Commission – would exclude the government completely from any judicial appointment.  He had described the reform as “a step forward” and a step in the “right direction”.

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