The Malta Independent 5 December 2020, Saturday

TMID Editorial: Police Force - Work without fear

Monday, 16 November 2020, 08:24 Last update: about 18 days ago

The Police Force has been working to try and recover from the damaged reputation during former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s administration and the events of last week are proof of this.

For many years, the inaction by the police against politically exposed persons and politicians was shocking to say the least, and was part of the reason so many protests were held last Christmas.

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But the police cannot sit idle, not when international institutions like Moneyval have put Malta under the microscope.

Just last week former Minister Konrad Mizzi and Joseph Muscat’s former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri were brought in for questioning by the Financial Crimes Intelligence Department (FCID). It is as yet unclear what their interrogation was over, however the mere fact that they were called in shows that the police are now not holding back from questioning PEPs.

Indeed many breathed a sigh of relief to see that the police are actually questioning such people. The events of last November seem to have gotten the ball rolling.

One of the main concerns over the years was that the police might have been facing pressure not to investigate politicians. In an interview with The Malta Independent on Sunday, Assistant Commissioner Alexandra Mamo, who heads the FCID, clearly said: “Since I have been here, I can say, hand on heart, with responsibility and honesty, that nobody has ever put pressure on me, or called, approached or messaged me not to investigate any person." She added that the Police Commissioner does not interfere in her investigations.

Hearing such a statement come from the very person that is currently heading financial crimes investigation helps rebuild trust in the Force. One hopes that the situation remains so.

During the interview she also detailed how her department operates, and how she has set up a number of task forces to head up different investigations, with inspectors specialising in different types of financial crimes.

Specialisation in this day and age is needed, especially when there are so many different forms of financial crimes to tackle.

The Force is seemingly working to rebuild confidence in its capabilities, and this must be praised, but one hopes that this is not just being done to pass one international evaluation or another, and that its actions are more genuine then that.

Mamo also said that the Force has a good working relationship with the FIAU, which is good to hear, given that over the past years there were many concerns that FIAU reports were being left to gather dust on shelves.

There is still a lot of work to be done and the Force cannot afford any mistakes. They cannot fear or hold back from investigating prominent persons, regardless of who those people are.

This newsroom recently published a separate editorial on police-media relations. One thing that was highlighted was that in major situations like that regarding Mizzi and Schembri’s questioning, the police press should be in a position to give an official comment to the media about police investigations, or at least provide some details. This newsroom must reiterate this point.

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