The Malta Independent 25 May 2024, Saturday
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TMID Editorial: Impunity and lack of enforcement

Monday, 15 April 2024, 11:05 Last update: about 2 months ago

Repubblika’s Acting President told The Malta Independent on Sunday that she believes the tentacles of impunity described in the public inquiry that looked into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia are still present today.

The government and the authorities haven’t really done much to show otherwise.

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On the hospitals deal, it was the Nationalist Party that got things moving and filed the court case which had found fraud in the deal, not the government. The government, for years, painted the hospitals deal as being good for Malta. Look how that turned out.

When it comes to the driving license scandal, Prime Minister Robert Abela had said last October that the police conducted their work and their investigations, and that the courts will now be the ones to decide over what, allegedly, happened irregularly. But, he said, "the officials in the government customer care departments who did their job to help people without looking at political colour or other factors, but saw how to help people, as I do directly and as many ministers do who assist the people in general with their needs... are we saying that we should throw away that primary function?" His rhetoric on this scandal says it all, clientelism at its best. Customer care and government officials should never have been sending messages to Transport Malta officials for people to get their driving tests or asking to speed it up, absolutely not.

Prosecutions in the disability benefits racket mainly focused on those who took them, but only recently have those who allegedly orchestrated it been charged, and it took far too long for this to happen. Let’s also keep in mind that there might be others who also need to be brought before the courts.

One also must also mention the recent damning judgement by Mr Justice Lawrence Mintoff, which was the subject of an editorial published in yesterday’s edition of The Malta Independent on Sunday. The judgement, among other things, said that former OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri had not spoken about his “fraternal friendship” with Yorgen Fenech when he was taking part in confidential briefings about the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder investigation, adding that the non-declaration of such serious conflicts of interest should be made a crime. Serious allegations have also been levelled against Schembri. The Daphne Foundation recently said: “Using his power as the Prime Minister’s chief of staff to acquire confidential information from the murder investigation, Schembri began leaking the information to Fenech ‘within a week’ of Daphne’s death, doing so ‘continually’ and ‘in real time’ for more than two years, according to Fenech’s sworn testimony.” Are the police investigating the criminal complaint which Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family, which had been filed in December 2019, or not?

Then there is the lack of action by other authorities, like the Planning Authority, when it comes to enforcement. The Ombudsman recently slammed the Planning Authority over the lack of action it took against rule breakers in a case revolving around a catering establishment, saying that the way the Planning Authority acted was an encouragement for contravenors to do as they please.

One can also look at the lack of political accountability. Thanks to the Prime Minister’s decision to open the doors to people who were removed from the public sphere, or kicked out of the Labour Party for their actions, has seriously damaged the concept of political accountability in Malta. Politicians and people appointed to head agencies should be held to exceptionally high standards. Yet now we have the concept of temporary accountability till things blow over.

The government and the authorities have a long way to go to ensure that enforcement is done right in Malta.

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