The Malta Independent 23 June 2024, Sunday
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Government offers one-time €3,000 ‘final’ payment to AFM personnel over past injustices

Kevin Schembri Orland Sunday, 26 May 2024, 07:15 Last update: about 27 days ago

The government has offered a one-time “final” €3,000 payment to some 700 Armed Forces of Malta personnel who had filed complaints over injustices they claimed they had suffered in the past.

This offer to settle came just three weeks before Malta will be voting to elect its representatives at the European Parliament and local councils in the next five years.

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The government would not say how many of the AFM members have taken up the offer, but The Malta Independent on Sunday is informed that around 300 of the recipients have refused it and are prepared to take the matter further.

The €3,000 ex-gratia payment was offered to AFM personnel who had filed a complaint over alleged grievances committed before 2013 with the Commission for Injustices of the Armed Forces of Malta, which had been appointed in 2017. The Commission was chaired by Colonel Alexander Dalli who, before being appointed to head the Corradino Correctional Facility in June 2018, had submitted the findings.

A Home Affairs Ministry spokesperson, following the publication of the article, told this newsroom that in those cases where injustices were found to be valid by the Coimmission will also be offered compensation over and above the €3000 that would be equivalent to what the injustice amounted to as a full and final settlement, although they also have a right to appeal. Those not found valid were offered the €3000 only.

In 2023, MaltaToday had reported that this Commission had received around 700 cases for consideration, but the complainants since then had been left in limbo.

In a letter dated 14 May, and signed by Joyce Dimech, permanent secretary at the Home Affairs Ministry, the recipients were told that the Commission had concluded its report, and that recommendations had been presented to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Security and Employment.

The letter, which The Malta Independent on Sunday has seen, goes on to say that the recipients “are being offered an ex-gratia compensation of €3,000 as a full and final settlement to your complaint and of any claim related thereto”.

The payment, the letter adds, is based on the Commission’s report regarding the respective case “in which a favourable redress has not been given”.

Those who received the letter had until last Friday at noon so say whether or not they would be accepting the decision of the Complaints Board. If they disagreed, they were given 10 working days to fill in and submit what the ministry described as an appeal letter.

This newsroom sent questions to the Home Affairs Ministry. The Ministry was asked to state how many of the complaints made by those 700 current or former soldiers were found to be valid by the Commission; how many of them were offered an ex-gratia compensation, how many of these had their complaints denied; how many accepted the ex-gratia payment and why the government chose to make these ex-gratia payments now.

The ministry did not give the details asked for, choosing to reply as follows: “The Commission for Injustices within the Armed Forces of Malta was appointed in 2017 to address the innumerable injustices suffered by Armed Forces members during the previous administration. Some of the grievances were justified, others were not, and others were partially justified by the then-appointed Commission. The ex-gratia compensation of 3,000 was offered in full and final settlement to the complaint, with the aim of concluding as many cases as possible. This government is truly committed to enhancing the conditions of all disciplined forces, including the Armed Forces of Malta, not only by sealing an unprecedented number of sectoral agreements but also by enhancing the personnel's working conditions, which are a far cry from what they experienced in the past.”

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