Council of Europe calls for prompt action as Malta fails its latest anti-corruption assessment

Malta has until the end of the year to detail progress on the Council of Europe’s 2019 anti-corruption recommendations.

 

Malta has still only satisfactorily implemented four of the 23 recommendations outlined in the Council of Europe’s GRECO’s (Group of States against Corruption) Fifth Round Evaluation Report.

Ten recommendations remain partially implemented, while nine have not been implemented, according to the most recent assessment.

In its Second Compliance Report, adopted by the Council of Europe’s Assembly last December and published on Thursday, the anti-corruption body heavily criticised the Maltese government for failing to address several critical recommendations by GRECO made in March 2019.

The review of Malta’s Freedom of Information (FOI) Act is among those recommendations that have not been implemented.

The rapporteurs noted that despite some initial steps, such as selecting an external consultant to analyse the current legislation (a report that remains unpublished) and the government’s claim that a new case management system for information requests would be introduced by the end of 2024, no tangible progress had been made.

Another recommendation that has not been implemented is for the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life to be equipped with the appropriate means and possibilities to conduct inquiries and propose effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.

In a scathing rebuke of the Maltese authorities’ insistence that damage to the reputation of public figures found to have breached ethical and integrity rules was enough redress, the CoE rapporteurs insisted GRECO recommendations must be implemented.

“GRECO takes note of the authorities’ diverging view regarding this recommendation. However, this position is immaterial in the context of the compliance procedure. GRECO expects recommendations issued as a result of the mutual evaluation to be acted upon,” the report stated.

In the latest illustration of how little Malta’s public figures care about reputational damage, Prime Minister Robert Abela was found to have breached the ministerial code of ethics in the latest investigation by the Standards Commissioner. Yet the prime minister refused to make a public apology as requested by the Commissioner, insisting instead that his staff should be blamed, not him.

No progress has been made in implementing the CoE’s recommendations on declarations of assets and interests, which are not fully developed and lack extensions to include information on spouses and systematic online accessibility.

Other recommendations ignored concern lobbying regulations and more transparent rules on appointments to positions of trust. The recommendations to introduce new laws, such as wiretapping and similar special investigative measures to help prosecute corruption cases, also remain unaddressed.

Similar recommendations were made by the public inquiry tasked with looking into the circumstances surrounding the death of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Among several recommendations, the public inquiry board called for the introduction of unexplained wealth orders, laws to criminalise obstruction of justice by public officials and specific abuse of office laws for government officials.

In conclusion, GRECO’s rapporteurs note that “Malta is not in sufficient compliance with the recommendations contained in the Fifth Round Evaluation Report” and have requested a report from the Maltese authorities detailing progress on outstanding recommendations by 31 December.

They also urged the Statutory Committee’s President to notify Malta’s Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe about the non-compliance and the need for prompt action.

The GRECO report can be found here.

                           

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6 Comments
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The Demeter rats
The Demeter rats
1 month ago

No surprise there! – Maltese politicians are all members of the same unholy club. Even the PM is a developer, so why would he clamp down on speculation? He benefits from office premises, over which he possesses no legal title and his wife is in hot water with the banks. With an example like that, do you think the rest of the caball actually care? After all, Nuxelluna only has to ‘apologise’ and her nose will be back in the troughs.

Lawrence Mifsud
Lawrence Mifsud
1 month ago

It seems that only Fitch give a good rating to Malta…..and includes some ifs and buts.

Paul
Paul
1 month ago

And fitch ratings are paid for and are not independent

Mick
Mick
1 month ago

Define “Prompt” in Malta?

Reality
Reality
1 month ago

What is the EU WAITING FOR TO BLACKLIST US AGAIN FORSI L-POPLU FL-AHHAR JISTENBAH

Winston Psaila
Winston Psaila
29 days ago

Hats off to the Council of Europe. However, given till the end of the year to implement recommendations requested in March 2019, is far too long a breathing space for a slithering snake.

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