The Malta Independent 13 August 2022, Saturday

Standards Commissioner received 41 complaints calling for investigations in 2021 - annual report

Friday, 5 August 2022, 15:29 Last update: about 8 days ago

The Commissioner for Standards in Public Life has issued his annual report for 2021.

The report outlines the role of the Commissioner as set out by the Standards in Public Life Act and the procedures he follows when considering complaints against members of Parliament and persons of trust.

The report states that the Standards Commissioner received 41 complaints during 2021. The Commissioner closed 39 complaints, of which he found 25 ineligible for investigation under the Act while he investigated and concluded 14.

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Examples of persons about whom the Commissioner received complaints during 2021, but who were not subject to the Act, include members of government boards and chief executives of public entities. Members of government boards can be considered political appointees since most of them are chosen by ministers at their discretion. The same applies to the chief executives of some public entities. However, none of these are covered by the term "person of trust" as defined in the Act.

A total of five of the investigations concluded in 2021 resulted in a finding that a breach of ethics had taken place. The Commissioner referred four of these cases to Parliament's Standing Committee for Standards in Public Life. He resolved the fifth case himself under article 22(5) of the Standards in Public Life Act on the basis of an undertaking by the minister concerned to make every effort to avoid a recurrence of the same breach. The remaining investigations resulted in a finding that no misconduct had taken place.

The Commissioner had 16 complaints outstanding at the start of 2021 and he ended the year with 18 complaints outstanding. 

The report reviews decisions taken by the Commissioner in the course of his consideration of complaints. It also reviews cases regarding which the Commissioner submitted reports to Parliament's Standards Committee during 2021. The annual report covers other activities carried out by the Standards Commissioner during 2021, including the publication of guidelines on government advertising and promotional material, and the launch of an EU funded project to improve the integrity and transparency framework in Malta. This project is being undertaken at the Commissioner's request by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.


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