Constitutional law expert Kevin Aquilina has said that the law regarding the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life should be changed, arguing that it should not be a Parliamentary Committee that takes decisions on a breach of ethics report.
Aquilina, who is a Professor of Law at the Faculty of Laws, University of Malta, highlights certain issues with the way the Commissioner’s reports are currently dealt with.
Writing in an opinion article, he says: “When the Commissioner finds a breach of standards, he reports to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Standards in Public Life that is not obliged by law to publish forthwith his report. When the Committee discusses the Commissioner’s report, it is this Committee that decides thereupon.”
“Yet the Committee is not impartial as the two government MPs side with the reported government MP and vice-versa in the case of the opposition reported MP, putting in an embarrassing situation not only the reported MP but even Committee MPs hailing from his/her own political party. How can such a Committee convey to the general public an aura of impartiality when it acts more as a political forum than a judicial body?”
Aquilina states that the Commissioner’s report “should, by law, be laid on the table of the House by the Speaker during the very first sitting following receipt thereof.” He said that it should be the constitutionallyestablished disciplinary Committee for Judges and Magistrates that should decide on the report, not the Committee for Standards in Public Life “that does not satisfy the basic guarantees of impartiality.”
In his article, he also discusses the issue of persons of trust, and addresses whether such positions are in line with the constitution or not.
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