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Omtzigt requests meeting with new PM in January

The Council of Europe's Special Rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt
The Council of Europe's Special Rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt. Photo: PACE

Special Rapporteur for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Pieter Omtzigt requested a meeting with the new prime minister during his fact-finding mission next month.

In an open letter to Labour Party candidates Robert Abela and Chris Fearne, the two contenders to replace Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Omtzigt said he wanted to set up a meeting to discuss the implementations, and their lack of, of the resolutions made at council level.

“The purpose of this visit will be to gather information on the government’s plans to address the full range of outstanding rule of law issues and to identify areas in which the Maltese authorities could co-operate further with relevant Council of Europe bodies. I will then report back to the Assembly’s committees”.

Omtzigt pointed out that he was responsible for the follow-up of the council resolution on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the rule of law in Malta.

”You will be aware of the growing international concern over the rule of law in Malta, expressed at political level by the Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament and European Commissioners Vera Jourova and Didier Reynders, amongst others,” he said in the letter.

The structural problems underlying this concern were identified and solutions to them proposed by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL).

In June, the council called on Malta, through a resolution, to implement “as a matter of urgency” the reform packages recommended by the Venice Commission and GRECO, in their entirety.

“Unfortunately, as I reported to the Assembly’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights in mid-November, there has not yet been any significant progress towards implementing these reforms,” he said.

The Maltese authorities’ response to the Council of Europe’s recommendations “is crucial to my mandate as rapporteur” and to the future report on Malta of the Assembly’s Monitoring Committee.

Omtzigt said he was going to make a fact-finding visit to Malta in January, shortly after the new Prime Minister was appointed.

“I invite you, as a candidate, to undertake to meet me during my visit in order to discuss these issues in person, should you be appointed Prime Minister,” he said.

Malta, so far, has escaped the humiliation of monitoring by PACE, would be the first EU country to face the scrutiny putting the country in danger of being in the same category as Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Ukraine.

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