The NGO Commissioner has insisted that his censure of rule-of-law group Repubblika was not politically motivated.
“The Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations would like to clarify that in his role he has always acted autonomously and independently without any political interference, including but not limited to the Office of the Prime Minister,” the office of commissioner Anthony Abela Medici said in a statement on Monday, adding that the statement was necessary “in the light of the unfounded allegations made by the association Repubblika”.
Repubblika, an NGO which focuses on rule-of-law issues, said earlier this month that it was being targeted by the NGO Commissioner in an attempt to silence it.
It published a letter sent to it by the Commissioner’s office which accused it of encouraging “political propaganda and publicity” and breaching NGO funding rules.
“We consider your letter to be a blatant attempt at silencing us. You single us out because we dare to raise our voice against the manner in which the country is being governed,” the NGO’s president, Robert Aquilina, wrote in reply nine days ago.
On Monday, the commissioner hit back, writing that he had acted “in an equal and unbiased manner”.
Legal warnings similar to that sent to Repubblika had also been sent to “other defaulting voluntary organisations” which were also in breach of the law, he said.
These other organisations had met with the commissioner and “most” had “taken seriously the suggestions passed by the commissioner and his office”, he said.
The commissioner said he was willing to meet Repubblika “to discuss together any anomalies” in their statute and ensure they complied with NGO law.
“The Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations strongly emphasises that as he has always done in the past, he will continue to be of guidance and helpful to all Voluntary Organisations to keep the voluntary sector growing in a legal, transparent, and accountable manner,” he added.
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