It is with deep regret that I read that the Nationalist Party, still in opposition, has launched its own injustices commission to become operative once in government.
Unfortunately, notwithstanding the establishment of the Office of Ombudsman and, subsequently thereto, of commissioners for administrative investigations (hereafter ‘commissioners’), successive public administrations keep on appointing injustices commissions to appease disgruntled political party sympathisers and to immorally dish out hundreds of taxpayers’ monies to redress alleged injustices perpetrated by previous administrations.
Such commissions contribute to subvert the ombudsman and the commissioners while bringing to naught the rule of law and the principle of legal certainty by undermining rulings given by the ombudsman, the commissioners and other state entities tasked with the provision of redress for administrative maladministration. They also bring to naught the workings of other state institutions – such as the courts and quasi-judicial tribunals – also specifically tasked with investigating injustices and granting relief therefrom.
These injustices commissions constitute only a political ploy and tactic used by Maltese political parties to attract votes, normally when general elections are looming. Their establishment conveys the message that political parties are after power at all costs.
Such a proposal is indicative of the state the opposition is in during these pre-election months as Maltese political parties in electoral-campaign frenzy tend to abandon fair play principles favouring recourse to devious machinations to attract voters.
These injustices commissions constitute only a political ploy and tactic used by Maltese political parties to attract votes
Unsurprisingly, the government moves in the same direction through the approval of several licences and permits that are normally rejected earlier on in the legislature, the employment of several persons – surely not on the basis of merit – with the public administration and dishing out consultancies and direct orders again in full flout of the merit principle. These are the characteristic traits of morally corrupt Malta!
For if the courts, the ombudsman, the commissioners and other competent authorities have all pronounced themselves against the perpetration of an injustice, on what legal basis grounded on the rule of law, legal certainty and merit, can these injustices commissions rule in favour of the citizen whose complaints have been shot down by state-competent authorities entrusted specifically with the task of investigating such complaints and providing redress thereto?
The establishment of injustices commissions is not only an affront to the rule of law but an abuse of power. Taxpayers’ monies are used to make good for perceived injustices when such disbursements are clearly not due on the basis of merit or justice.
Indeed, Maltese political parties tend to sell their soul – provided they have one, of course – to attract voters at all cost rather than do the right thing – leave the competent authorities of the state entrusted with the investigation of injustices do their job in complete serenity without being undermined by the creation of parallel partisan injustices commissions that, in reality, lack independence, impartiality and autonomy from the government of the day.
I cannot understand how the Nationalist Party – when still in the opposition ranks – could stoop so low to debase the Office of the Ombudsman, that of the commissioners, the rule of law and legal certainty, to promise resort to abuse of power when in government.
I was so naive to have thought that, with the creation of the Office of the Ombudsman, injustices would have been dealt with only by this constitutional office as well as by the adjunct commissioners. However, both the Labour government and the Nationalist opposition have proved, and continue to prove, me totally wrong: partisan politics supersedes the national interest.
Kevin Aquilina, professor of Law, University of Malta
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