A delegation of MEPs that travelled to Malta in May on a fact-finding mission has expressed concern about impunity afforded to key figures in the Joseph Muscat administration, including the former prime minister himself, his chief of staff Keith Schembri, and minister Konrad Mizzi.

The MEPs said the trio remains "unprosecuted for serious and substantiated evidence of corruption", as seen through NAO and FIAU reports and evidence published by the late journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The report  was the second on the rule of law in Malta to be issued on Wednesday after a country report by the European Commission.

The MEPs from the civil liberties committee (LIBE) said they intend to constantly monitor, especially through the permanent Representation of the European Parliament in Malta and the NGOs operating in the territory, any progress made by the Maltese institutions in relation to rule of law and to repeat the mission within the next year.

The delegation welcomed additional capacities being made available for investigation and prosecution of crime in general, the reformed appointment procedure for judges, the ongoing reform of the Attorney General’s office, the efforts of the FIAU and the recent referrals to the European Public Prosecutor's Office. But they said that a number of issues still need to be addressed.

The MEPs said they had noticed "slow progress" in the follow-up of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, namely as regards the implementation of the recommendations by the public inquiry. They called for the finalisation of the investigation into the "core motives behind the murder". The criminal judicial proceedings should also be closed "as fast as possible", they said.

Sale of passports

The MEPs stressed that the Maltese Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme remains "a source of major concern" and called for an immediate ban of the programme.

"[The MEPs] regretted that the concerns presented by the delegation were not met by the government, which signalled that the CBI programme would continue unless there is a prohibitive ruling by the EU's Court of Justice," they noted in their report.

On media freedom, they expressed concern that obstacles to media freedom and pluralism, such as access to information from the government as well as potentially discriminatory funding of media outlets, persisted and needed to be addressed.

"The delegation acknowledged that the government brought forward a proposal for an anti-SLAPP law, but at the same time deplored that journalists, as well as family members of the late Caruana Galizia, are currently still targets of such frivolous lawsuits, and reiterates its urgent call to drop the cases," the report says.

Political party funding

The MEPs said they were concerned about the alleged debts accumulated by the two main political parties, as well as the lack of transparency on party financing in Malta.

They also called for more efforts to separate powers within the administration and for MPs to truly hold the government to account.  

At the end of their mission, the MEPs had concluded that Malta's rule of law reforms process "lacks pace and speed and some of the reforms are half-hearted and not complete".

Similar concerns were raised in the report, with the MEPs reiterating the "urgent need to step up the pace and see through the necessary legislative reforms" while also pointing to slow proceedings and insufficient capacity as two of the main issues relating to the justice system that needed to be tackled.

See the report in full by clicking on the pdf below. 

Attached files

 

  

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