The wrong man for the job – Kevin Cassar

Robert Abela got his Justice Minister to present the terms of reference for the Jean Paul Sofia public inquiry and he’s promising to publish it three days after he receives a copy of the report.

But he also promised he’d table the Miriam Pace report by October 2020.  He didn’t. Abela kept it secret for months. Pace’s family had been clamouring for answers and for any information about her tragic death under the rubble of her own home.

Abela had those answers, or at least some of them. He callously refused to share them even with her grieving husband and children. What sort of person would do that?

By January 2021, Pace’s family was publicly expressing its bafflement and disappointment at Abela’s betrayal. He’d made an appearance at the scene of the crime. He feigned outrage. I am angry and hurt,” he exclaimed. But he was not “angry and hurt” enough to share the findings of the Quintano commission with the Pace family. No hint of compassion, just cold political calculation.

Ten months later, a journalist asked him when he would publish the report. He simply replied, “The Board made the recommendations to me and that led to the tabling of legislative changes.”

The family was outraged. Other victims of similar incidents were livid.

The Chamber of Architects expressed its disappointment.  Moviment Graffitti called Abela’s reluctance to publish the report “incomprehensible”, noting that “we cannot know what its recommendations really are and to what extent they are being implemented”.

Repubblika blasted Abela’s secrecy as “shocking and irresponsible” and submitted a freedom of information request but got no answer. Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar “strongly condemned” Abela’s decision.

So, as he always does, Abela made a U-turn.  One week later he tabled that report in parliament.  He promised that “construction cowboys would not be allowed to put people’s lives at risk any longer”.

Promise broken.

If it were up to him, he’d have kept that report to himself, as he did for 10 months.

He’s done exactly the same with Jean Paul Sofia’s public inquiry. For months he refused to entertain the thought of an inquiry. Now he’s finally relented after a massive public outcry. He’s done so not because he wants the truth to emerge.  He buckled because the pressure was about to crush him.

Now he’s promising to publish the report within three days. He’s binding himself to hold a parliamentary debate a year after its publication to assess which recommendations have been implemented and “what other measures, including amendments to the law, need to be taken”.

Abela isn’t looking for the truth. He knows the truth. As prime minister, he has all the information he needs.

After being forced to accept the inquiry, he wanted a two-month deadline for the board of inquiry to conclude its report.

Sofia’s family objected, insisting that the timeframe was too short.  Abela was forced into another concession and had to accept a five-month timeframe with an extension possible if required.

Justice Minister Jonathan Attard attempted to justify Abela’s ridiculously tight timeframe. His excuse was “government was set on seeing that justice is done and seen to be done within a reasonable time frame”.

Justice isn’t served by setting up public inquiries whose reports are conveniently hidden and then ignored. Justice is served when recommendations are fully implemented. Justice isn’t served by uttering false platitudes and empty promises.

We all know what Robert Abela has done with that other landmark public inquiry – the Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry. That inquiry was concluded over two years ago.  Abela, despite all his pledges, hasn’t implemented a single one of its recommendations.

“My government is committed to delivering justice to the Caruana Galizia family and the people in general,” he falsely declared when the inquiry concluded. “The murder was a dark chapter in the history of Malta and it would be a shame if lessons aren’t learnt.”

“The government will hold public consultations on the implementation of the inquiry recommendations” he also promised. It’s now two years later and nothing’s happened. “Talks will be held with the opposition in view of the recommendations involving journalists,” Abela announced.

Instead, he’s shot down every one of the opposition’s proposals.

“It’s not just laws that have to change but also attitudes – the message should be one of seriousness, integrity and good governance,” Abela stated.

Where’s his good governance? Where’s the seriousness and integrity?

“There will be no immunity or impunity for anyone,” he promised. Yet Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri and Joseph Muscat still walk free. His own agriculture minister defies justice with a historical artefact still in his garden.

“I want to meet the Caruana Galizia family to discuss the implementation of the inquiry’s recommendations,” Abela boldly stated in 2021. It was just hot air. He’s done absolutely nothing. In truth, he never intended to.

Just two months after his public apology for the state’s shortcomings that led to Caruana Galizia’s assassination, he was damping down expectations.

“Legislation to implement recommendations cannot happen overnight,” he announced. “But the government is actively working to draw up the necessary legislation”.  24 months later and there is still no legislation in sight.

“Several meetings have been held and those discussions will eventually be beefed up with legislation,” he claimed in 2021. “But the inquiry took a year and a half to complete its work”.

Abela has absolutely no intention of implementing any recommendation.

Those recommendations included unexplained wealth orders, a law criminalising the obstruction of justice by government officials, a specific abuse of office law, reform of the Freedom of Information Act to limit secrecy under the pretext of commercial sensitivity, constitutional changes for the functioning of the Broadcasting Authority, and the requirement for police to promptly investigate allegations made by investigative journalists.

Robert Abela had two years. And he’s done absolutely nothing with the Caruana Galizia inquiry recommendations, despite massive international pressure.

He hid the Miriam Pace report for months and only made feeble window-dressing attempts when he was forced to publish it.

Can anybody trust this man to deliver justice for Jean Paul Sofia and the other victims of the construction cabal?

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Joe l ghasfur
Joe l ghasfur
1 month ago

Prosit Kevin, dejjem tolqot il musmsar ezzat fuq rassu. Jien ilhaqt gvernijiet laburisti ta qabel u tajjeb jew hazin dejjem hasbu fil poplu u ghamlu l affarijiet kif suppost. Min meta sar prim Muscat bdejna bil probusienes u sirna salesman meta suppost dan kien prim tal poplu kollu. Issa gie dan Bertu li ghamel patt ma ta denbu twil u issa spiccajara kif jaghmel biex jaghti id dnubiet tieghu ,ta qablu u ta shabu ghax idejh marbutin.
L isfortuna hi dejjem il poplu jispica jibla kollox u dawn il hallelin dejjem jaraw fuq min ser iffarfru,(la il poplu hu gidra u injorant)

Francis Said
Francis Said
1 month ago

My instinct is that the PL in government is doing it’s utmost to irritate the EU.
Is the PL planning to get kicked out from the EU.
The rule of law, transparency, good governance are what was promised to the electorate in 2013 but never implemented.

1 month ago
Reply to  Francis Said

I doubt it as the money they get is so good and it’s easy to divert it into friends of friends pockets then into there own pockets

Charles Massa
Charles Massa
1 month ago

RA is definitely not fit for purpose! Well done for the article, as always!

joe tedesco
joe tedesco
1 month ago


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