The Malta Independent 12 July 2020, Sunday

Indepth: Discussion on how to remove Police Commissioner must be given importance

INDEPTH online Saturday, 25 January 2020, 09:06 Last update: about 7 months ago

While the government has announced a new method of appointing Police Commissioners, no one is speaking about how police chiefs should be removed, lawyer Roberto Montalto said on Indepth.

Interviewed by The Malta Independent Media Consultant Rachel Attard, Montalto said: “I believe this is an important issue but no one has said how the Police Commissioner can be removed. What mechanisms will apply?”


On 17 January, police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar resigned, with Assistant Commissioner Carmelo Magri replacing him on a temporary basis. PM Robert Abela said there will be a public call, with two candidates being shortlisted by the Public Service Commission. The PM will then choose one of the candidates, who must also be approved by Parliament’s Public Appointments Committee.

Montalto, who said the two-thirds majority system has never really worked in Malta, asked whether this would also be the same method used to remove a commissioner. He stressed that there needs to be made a new distinct and separate mechanism.


Speaking about the Public Service Commission, whose members will scrutinise and hold interviews with those who apply for the position, Montalto said that this commission should come up with a number of criterion which the shortlisted applicants would have to satisfy.



The idea of having a two-thirds majority in Parliament is portrayed as the perfect idea, but according to lawyer Roberto Montalto such a vote has never worked in Malta.

On 17 January, Lawrence Cutajar resigned from the post of Police Commissioner, being temporarily replaced by Carmelo Magri, the most senior police officer. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced the Cabinet's proposed changes to the way Police Commissioners will be appointed; which will include a public call for applications.

The proposal, however, did not include any mention of a two-thirds majority vote requirement in Parliament.

Montalto argued that while the idea of requiring a 2/3rds majority in Parliament seems perfect on paper, there have been situations in the past where such a majority was required, but it never worked. He said that there have been, for example, two cases of impeachments in the history of the country "where it was evident that they were meant to be accepted, however for reasons that we know, were not."

"So the idea of a 2/3rds majority is nice on paper," he said, but added that it does not work in practice.

Criminal and Civil lawyer Roberto Montalto was interviewed by The Malta Independent Media Consultant Rachel Attard, and the discussion focused on Prime Minister Robert Abela's speech and decision to change the method of appointing a new police commissioner.

Montalto stated that he has full faith in Abela, who he said is taking the necessary actions to bring back the prestigious reputation of the country.

"Abela found himself in the current situation, where there were huge mistakes made by the previous government, and our reputation was damaged due to those mistakes."

He stressed that the decision made regarding the appointment system for police commissioners is a big step forward in the right direction.


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