The Malta Independent 18 June 2019, Tuesday

Commissioner for Standards investigation policy not contradictory to criminal code - Ombudsman

Albert Galea Monday, 15 April 2019, 08:29 Last update: about 3 months ago

The fact that the new Commissioner for Standards in Public Life cannot, as per the Standards in Public Life Act, investigate matters which occurred prior to October 2018 does not contradict the criminal code, the Ombudsman concluded in his case report.

The Ombudsman was asked to investigate an apparent 'anomaly' between the Standards in Public Life Act that precludes the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life from investigating an allegation of an act which occurred before 30 October 2018, the date on which the Act came into force, and the Criminal Code, which removes time barring on acts of corruption by politician.

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The complainant said that if this was true, the Standards in Public Life Act was "diametrically contrary" to the Criminal Code and would therefore "be depriving Maltese citizens from seeking judicial remedies against politicians who allegedly abused of their position."

While the Ombudsman stated that it was not his function to investigate whether a law was correct, he said that "the limitation in the Standards in Public Life Act, which stipulates that the Commissioner should not investigate allegations or acts that occurred before the coming into force of the Act, in no way diminished or reduced the effect of the recent amendment to the Criminal Code that removed the applicability of prescription in case of corruption when committed by persons elected to political office"

The Ombudsman said that the Commissioner for Standards has a power of review of a much wider category of public officers to whom the amendment of the Criminal Code does not apply.

"The fact that the Commissioner cannot investigate an allegation of an act which occurred prior to the coming into force of the Act did not exclude that he could investigate an alleged offence that was continuous or if the person who allegedly committed it was still enjoying the benefits of his actions after the coming into force of the Act", he wrote in his report.

The Ombudsman therefore concluded that while complainant had every right to submit such a complaint, "it was not correct to say that the law was blatantly against the provision of the Criminal Code that abolished prescription in respect of corruptive acts committed by persons elected to public Office".

The current Commissioner for Standards in Public Life is George Hyzler, having been appointed to the role last November. 

 


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