The Malta Independent 4 December 2020, Friday

Joseph Muscat says it’s time up for parliamentary privilege, immunity

Wednesday, 1 July 2020, 06:44 Last update: about 6 months ago

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that parliamentary privilege, immunity should no longer be in place in Parliament, especially when they are abused by MPs.

Muscat was writing on Facebook after the Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia said that Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi was prima facie in breach when he said that Muscat called an early election in 2017 because he knew about the plot to assassinate Daphne Caruana Galizia. Muscat contested the accusation, and Farrugia ruled in his favour. But Azzopardi has refused to withdraw the accusation, and the matter will now go before the Privileges Committee.

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Muscat said that the Speaker’s ruling leaves no room for interpretation and “exposes the lie”, which Azzopardi insists on saying.

Muscat said that he was always in favour of freedom of expression, even when he was being harshly criticised. But this lie was the “greatest abuse of parliamentary privilege I have witnessed since I have been following Parliament, first as a journalist and then as an MP.”

Muscat said he had the possibility of taking steps to defend his name, but other people, including non-MPs, never got the right to defend themselves.

Parliamentary privilege, he said, was created in different circumstances and the intentions were good. Today, it’s time up for parliamentary privilege, and especially immunity, particularly when they are abused by members from whom one expected better, because of the education and training they received and because these same members believe they are an example of rectitude.

The government’s electoral programme includes a reform of the way parliamentary privilege is used and how immunity should be removed. Muscat said that extensive work was carried out and he hoped that the proposal will see the light of day.

PN MP Jason Azzopardi, for his part, said he will be summoning “tens” of witnesses before Parliament’s Privileges Committee to prove that he was telling the truth.

Illum kien ikkonfermat fil-Parlament li l-Onorevoli Jason Azzopardi abbuża l-privileġġi tiegħu meta gideb fil-konfront...

Posted by Joseph Muscat on Tuesday, 30 June 2020
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