Malta ignores OGP letter, signals lack of attention to transparency and accountability issues: NGOs

Malta’s government has not yet replied to a letter from the Open Government Partnership sent almost a year and a half ago, six NGOs said in a statement today. The letter contained notification to the government that Malta is under procedural review by the OGP Criteria and Standards Committee.

The NGOs said they’ve written to Prime Minister Robert Abela expressing their concern over this lack of engagement. In their letter to Abela, the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, aditus foundation, SOS Malta, Integra Foundation, Kopin and Repubblika said the lack of response is “disconcerting” because it indicates that the Maltese government is not serious about the values of the OGP: transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in policy-making.

The letter from the OGP, sent to the Maltese government on 7 February 2020, said Malta was placed under procedural review for two reasons: the government failed to submit a new Action Plan in 2017 and was moved to the 2018-2020 Action Plan cycle, and the public participation “Involve” requirement for that cycle was not met.

It’s also unclear which government ministry is actually responsible for coordinating Malta’s OGP responsibilities, the NGOs said in their letter to Abela; this previously fell under the Ministry for European Affairs and Equality, which has since been dissolved.

The NGOs ask the government to recommit to the OGP process, explain how it will meet the standards required in the future, and provide a written update on the progress of the 2021-2023 Action Plan, which is due this year. The government should take into account previous OGP recommendations and incorporate them into 2021-2023 Action Plan, the NGOs said.

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