Equality Ministry declines to comment on Farrugia remarks on shamed police officer

Equality ministry says the domestic violence accusations involving high-ranking police officer struck a nerve as anyone rendering a service to the public needs to meet the ethical guidelines of their profession and be irreproachable

Equality minister Helena Dalli refused to comment on whether the home affairs minister’s comments harmed the gender equality cause

A spokesperson for Equality Minister Helena Dalli has refused to comment on the remarks made by Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia in the wake of the resignation of Assistant Police Commissioner Mario Tonna.

Tonna resigned from the police force after reports emerged that his partner had filed a report against him for domestic violence. The police report was later withdrawn.

In comments to The Times on Wednesday, Farrugia described Tonna as a “hard-working officer who works long hours”.

Farrugia issued a second statement condemning all forms of domestic violence later in the day, following uproar in the traditional and social media.

The Shift News asked whether Dalli agreed with the comments made by Farrugia and whether she thought comments like Farrugia’s help or hinder efforts to promote greater gender equality.

In response, a spokesperson for Dalli pointed out that Farrugia had already issued a statement condemning all forms of domestic and gender-based violence.

The spokesperson described Dalli’s record on combating domestic and gender-based violence, pointing out to the Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence Bill that should shortly become law and the strategy launched towards the end of the year on the same subject.

“This case of the Assistant Police Commissioner struck a nerve”, said the spokesperson, adding that a senior police officer “needs to meet the ethical standards of their profession and be irreproachable”, just like any other professional rendering a service to the public.

The spokesperson further pointed out that 700 officials from various sectors, including police officers, are currently undergoing training being delivered by professionals from the University of Worcester, adding that Dalli’s ministry continues to work closely with various institutions to ensure that the goals set out in the strategy launched in November are met.

When The Shift News pressed for comment on whether Dalli found Farrugia’s comments helpful, in light of her ministry’s effort, the spokesperson simply said: “Minister Farrugia has already apologised.”

Dalli served as minister for civil liberties during Muscat’s first term in power between 2013 and 2017 where she spearheaded same-sex marriage and a landmark law on gender identity. She is currently serving as minister for European affairs and equality. Dalli also served as parliamentary secretary during Alfred Sant’s government between 1996 and 1998, where she piloted a new law on domestic violence.

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