For ministers to err is human. But when they dig their heels in and refuse to see logic and learn from their ‘mistakes’, then surely they should consider their position.

As minister responsible for home affairs, Byron Camilleri certainly has one of the toughest jobs among cabinet members.

Overseeing internal security, law and order, maintaining police and security forces and implementing migration policies, among others, is a tall and demanding order. This is why the officials heading such entities need to be the best of the crop.

The minister should not be impressed by gloss rather than substance. Introducing new uniforms and modern equipment for law-enforcement officers is positive but good management and esprit de corps in the disciplined forces is more important.

He may be doing his utmost to modernise them but he is failing to address core problems which have weighed down such entities for too long. And one of those is having the wrong people at the top.

Camilleri got it terribly wrong when he failed to do what he should have done after he was faced with the many serious allegations in relation to former prison head Alex Dalli.

The former military officer was eventually given a new job by the government – handling matters of national security in Libya – despite an inquiry finding that the prison system then in place could allow top officials to abuse their power and inflict unjust punishment on inmates.

Camilleri then chose Robert Brincau to succeed Dalli. But, less than a year later, the new head of prisons was arraigned and charged over a clash in which a gun – property of the Corradino Correctional Facility – was used.

Logic and good governance should have immediately led to his sacking, resignation or, at least, his suspension pending the outcome of the court case. Instead, Camilleri decided to retain him, ostensibly because this was “an alleged personal incident” and that “a vacuum for a long time at the Correctional Services Agency would not be in the best interest of the prison’s administration”.

Forget the fact that a gun that came from the prison was used in a “personal incident”, which, if anything, made the matter even more serious. But speaking of a “vacuum” implies there was no one capable of occupying the position, even if temporarily.

Brincau resigned at once when found guilty by the court.

To fill the “vacuum”, the minister immediately appointed Christopher Siegersma, who served as commissioner for the safeguarding and development of prisoners. This seems to indicate Camilleri’s talk of a “vacuum” was simply an attempt to deceive.

While noting that Brincau’s criminal record was untainted, the court observed that given his actions, he could in no way face a light punishment.

Camilleri also appears to back the disgraceful stance of Italy’s new right-wing government in preventing humanitarian NGOs from operating in the Mediterranean on grounds that they act as a pull factor for boat migrants.

The overwhelming body of research into the topic, however, suggests this is not the case and that the presence of NGO ships has little to no effect on the rate of migrant crossings.

As minister, Camilleri will always face increasing pressure to improve the performance of the police force in its capacity to protect citizens from crime and uphold the rule of law.

And that is why it is essential that he appoints the right people for the right jobs and to steer away from populist stands which could actually bring law and order into disrepute.

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