Malta misses European Council hearing on membership obligations

No representatives from the Maltese government attended a hearing on Malta’s membership obligations and the implementation of the reform packages recommended by the Venice Commission and GRECO by the Council of Europe’s Monitoring Committee.

At the in camera hearing in Paris last week, an exchange of views was held by the committee following a statement made by Special Rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt on his report “Daphne Caruana Galizia`s assassination and the rule of law in Malta and beyond: ensuring that the whole truth emerges”. 

The committee also decided on a follow-up hearing to review whether Malta honours its membership obligations in light of the upcoming periodic review.

The committee also invited Chairperson Sir Roger Gale to write a letter to the Maltese authorities to inform them of the upcoming hearing, as well as of the committee’s “support” for the work done by Omtzigt’s work and his upcoming visit to Malta “in the framework of the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights”.

Last month, Omtzigt requested a meeting with Prime Minister Robert Abela during his fact-finding mission this month. However, there has so far been no public confirmation as to whether Abela has accepted the request, and repeated questions sent by The Shift to Abela have been left ignored.

Before the meeting, held earlier this month, the three sons of Daphne Caruana Galizia sent an open letter to the members of the committee and stated their willingness to provide testimony should it be requested. Matthew Caruana Galizia will now be participating in the follow-up hearing.

Voicing their concerns about the appointment of Malta’s new Prime Minister Robert Abela, the letter said that the risk of having a change in leadership “will lift pressure for the government to pursue any of the other pressing changes that the country needs and which the Venice Commission, GRECO, MoneyVal, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have recommended”.

In June of last year, the council had 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”.

“The new prime minister, who has yet to commit to reform or to even acknowledge the depth of the country’s institutional crisis, should be requested to commit to a clear timeline to implement the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s specialised bodies and Parliamentary Assembly in their entirety,” Matthew, Paul and Andrew Caruana Galizia wrote.

“Adherence to this timeline should be closely monitored by the Committee. Anything less will see Malta’s obligations to the Council of Europe betrayed in favour of honouring obligations to the criminal system Malta’s former prime minister cultivated and protected”.

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