The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

Organised civil society one of the factors that brought down an administration - Ombudsman

Monday, 22 June 2020, 21:13 Last update: about 2 months ago

An organised civil society was among the factors that brought down an administration, Ombudsman Anthony Mifsud said in his annual report for 2019.

"2019 was in many respects a year of turmoil that brought about drastic changes in civil society, the public administration and government. Changes that are bound to have a lasting impact on the country's way of life, on how it is administered, on the empowerment of the citizens and hopefully, on strengthening the checks and balances required to secure the rule of law and curb abuse of power."

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The Ombudsman referred to 2019 as a year when civil society became more organised, vociferous and proactive.

"Spurred on by dramatic events that through concert, design or pure coincidence exposed the negative corruptive ties between big business and the public administration. Civil society was galvanised into action. This and other factors, eventually brought about the downfall in disgrace of an administration that enjoyed the backing of a sizeable majority of the electorate through implementing successful, economic policies."

The events that happened during 2019 and the worrying facts that they revealed led to a general consensus that urgent measures had to be taken, he said.

"The Office of the Ombudsman, for years had been advocating the need of major reforms. Reforms that have to favour, ensure and secure transparency and accountability and promote a high degree of active public participation. Reforms that should radically change the public administration to ensure that the management of the common good is exclusively made in the interest of the collectivity and not in that of a corrupt few."

Introducing reforms that prove to be merely cosmetic would do more harm than good, Mifsud said.

"In this spirit, the Ombudsman welcomes the Opinion on proposed legislative changes adopted by the Venice Commission and the government's commitment to implement the Commission's proposals."

"The Ombudsman will contribute towards the ongoing debate on constitutional and institutional reform especially in those areas which directly concern the functions of the Office of the Ombudsman in the defence of citizens' rights and the affirmation of their fundamental right to a good public administration. In this respect, he puts forward a number of proposals meant to strengthen the institution's constitutional and legislative set up that can guarantee transparency and accountability. This through stronger and more effective mechanisms that render them fully independent and autonomous. The Ombudsman stresses the need for the decentralisation of executive power and proposes the setting up of a Council of State."

During 2019, the Office of the Ombudsman received 592 complaints of which 336 were investigated by the Parliamentary Ombudsman, 104 were investigated by the Commissioner for Health, 84 by the Commissioner for Environment and Planning and the remaining 68 were investigated by the Commissioner for Education.

 


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