The Malta Independent 5 December 2023, Tuesday
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Ministry responds to judicial protests over Norma Saliba’s appointment

Monday, 25 September 2023, 20:07 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Ministry for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government has published two counter protests that were filed on the 22nd of September in response to judicial protests filed by the National Council for the Maltese Language and  Maltese language expert Mark Amaira.

The National Council for the Maltese Language had filed a judicial protest against Culture Minister Owen Bonnici, for publishing a Legal Notice under the name "Regulations Establishing the Centre for Maltese Language" which it said was done without seeking consultation "required by law". It had also argued that there was no prior consultation on Norma Saliba's appointment as Chief Executive for the Centre. Amaira had also filed a judicial protest over the appointment of Norma Saliba as the head of the new centre for the language.


The counter protests read that the allegations are being denied by the respondents (The ministry, State Advocate and the Centre for Maltese Language).

In the counter protest regarding the National Council, the State Advocate argues that the Centre for Maltese Language is an organ of the council established by law, and not something that has a distinct judicial personality, and so proceedings cannot be taken against it. "Aside from this, it doesn't make sense that the Council protests against its own organ." This argument was made as the centre was listed as one of the bodies against which the judicial protest was filed.

Regarding the Council's argument that it was not informed formally about what the minister did, the State Advocate said that it was not true that the Legal Notice was published without consultation with the Council, and that the respondents strongly deny this allegation. The counter protest reads that the law mentions consultation without giving details of how that consultation has to take place - formally or not. It also reads that the word consultation does not imply that there needs to be approval from the Council.

The counter protest adds that contrary to what the Council said, the minister did communicate with the President of the Council itself, Olvin Vella, both over the telephone and in writing. "The minister submits that he had no problem waiting for the Council President to call a meeting of the other members if it were needed, but since the minister received direction from the president that he can move forward, that is what he did."

It also reads that It was the responsibility of the president of the council to send the Legal Notice (that was still a draft) by the ministry to the other 15 members. "This means that the shortcoming was not by the respondents, but solely by the President of the Council who did not communicate what was sent to him with the other members"

The respondents also argued that the appointment of Norma Saliba as head of the centre was according to law. It was also argued that the procedure used by the ministry was according to law, and that the appointment of Saliba was valid.

Similair arguments were made in the counter protest to Mark Amaira's filings.


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