PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR JUSTICE, CULTURE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Government will legislate for a separation of Attorney General’s prosecution and advisory roles by Summer Parliamentary recess

The Government will be legislating for a separation of the Attorney General’s prosecutorial and advisory roles by the next Summer Parliamentary recess, with the first reading being moved on Monday 25th March 2019.

In a letter which Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici sent to Mr Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, Ms Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Claude Moraes, Chair Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament, and Mr Gianni Buquicchio, President of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, Minister Bonnici made reference to the Venice Commission’s Opinion on Constitutional Arrangements and Separation of Powers and the Independence of the Judiciary and law Enforcement of the 18 December 2018 and said that the main reform priorities are the recommendations concerning prosecution and the recommendations concerning judicial appointments and judicial discipline.

The legal text which will lead to the separation of the prosecution and the advisory roles held by the Attorney General will be published in the coming days. This dual role has been held by the Attorney General since 1936.

With regards to the recommendations relating to judicial appointments and judicial discipline, the Government is in agreement with further reform. The required changes can only be implemented through Constitutional amendments, which in turn can only be made with the approval of two-thirds of members of Parliament. Therefore, Government will immediately embark on a consultation process with the Parliamentary Opposition with a view to reaching a consensus expediently.

Furthermore, also on Monday 25 March 2019, Government will move the first readings of legal texts to make the legislative changes necessary with regards to the Ombudsman, Civil Service: Permanent Secretaries, Civil Service: Positions of Trust, Independent Commissions and the Police. The legal texts will also be published in the near future and Government aims to make these changes by the end of the current calendar year. Most of those changes require the approval of two-thirds of members of Parliament.

These, in all, represent one third of the changes proposed by the Venice Commission.

As recommended by the Venice Commission, the issue of transitory measures will also be the subject of consultation. Such measures are essential for implementing a planned and orderly transition from the current to the proposed systems in as smooth a manner as possible and for the avoidance of difficulties and legal uncertainties in the transitional periods.

The Government is confident that this process will be expeditious and will complement the ongoing reform process to which it is committed, and in furtherance of which it has implemented numerous Constitutional and legal changes since 2013, to strengthen the enforcement of the rule of law and the separation of powers, all of which were acknowledged by the Venice Commission.

The letter is being published.

Source: Government of Malta