The Malta Independent 20 May 2022, Friday

PN presents bills to fight corruption, implement recommendations made by Daphne public inquiry

Saturday, 8 January 2022, 12:47 Last update: about 5 months ago

The Nationalist Party on Saturday announced a package of 12 legislative bills aimed to implement the major findings of the public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and to fight corruption.

In a press conference, Opposition Leader Bernard Grech said that the aim of this legislative initiative is to implement action after six months of total inaction from the government. Grech was referring to the conclusions made by the Caruana Galizia inquiry report which was published in July 2021.

“The reasons as to why Malta was placed on the grey list are clear. This was due to the abuse of power by a number of Maltese politicians who still hold their position in government. Despite this, Prime Minister Robert Abela has continously remained silent in the face of these conclusions,” Grech said.

He added that as a result the PN has unanimously approved a package of 12 legislative bills to implement the public inquiry’s findings and address issues of good governance.

“We are hopeful that this package will not only be following what the judges recommended but it will also give the people better governance. We are presenting them today as we want to get our country off the FATF grey list immediately,” Grech said.

Among the 12 bills, there are proposals which protect people against organised crime and provide better equipment for the police in serious crime investigations and allow for the maximum period of arrest to be extended from 48 to 72 hours with the approval of the inquiring magistrate. 

Grech said that among the bills, the Nationalist Party aims to provide the highest possible protection for the right to free journalism and provide protection against SLAPP suits which are intended to deter a journalist from performing his or her duties.

A bill which seeks to establish a special inquiring magistrate who focuses solely on corruption by public officers is also included in the package. This would also allow the magistrate to initiate an investigation into the matter without anyone else’s authorisation.

The PN is also proposing new laws against abuse by public officials and dereliction of duty. 

It also proposed a new law on unexplained wealth orders. 

The PN is also proposing making it a crime for public officers to use their private email addresses for govenrment work, seeks to introduce laws against conflicts of interest, and proposes introducing a law to criminalise associations with mafia-life characters.

The 12 legislative bills mentioned must be approved by MPs in order to become law.

Government reaction

The government, in reaction, said it is not true that the government has not done anything on the inquiry recommendations.

The OPM has consulted with entities involved, including academics and journalists, as well as internationa institutions, to set up a committee as suggested by the inquiry.

The government said the Opposition Leader must known about this exercise.

In some of these meetings, bills aimed to protect journalists were also presented.

The fruit of such consultation exercise will be announced in the coming days, the government said.

Labour Party reaction

In a one-paragraph reaction, the Labour Party said that Grech can speak as much as he likes about governance. But when asked about the non-payment of tax and he justifies it because it was also his "sin" his biggest problem emerges - that of credibility.

 

 

 

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