Gambetti lill-Konvenzjoni Kostituzzjonali

Il-Ministru tal-Ġustizzja Edward Zammit Lewis, kien ewforiku dwar il-bidliet kostituzzjonali li ftehmu dwarhom il-Partit Nazzjonalista u l-Gvern Laburista. “Ftehim storiku” qal.

Ikun opportun li ninnutaw li dan il-ftehim bejn Gvern u Opposizzjoni sar bil-bibien magħluqin. Għal darb’oħra ma kienx hemm konsultazzjoni pubblika. Il-Konvenzjoni Kostituzzjonali, presentement fil-limbu, ngħatat gambetta oħra.  Kif ġie emfasizzat iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa minn Pieter Omtzigt, rapporteur Olandiż tal-Kunsill tal-Ewropa dwar  Malta u s-saltna tad-dritt, il-bidliet ta’ din ix-xorta għandhom isiru bis-serjeta.

Filwaqt li l-partiti fil-Parlament kontinwament jitkellmu favur il-ħtieġa tal-konvenzjoni kostituzzjonali, b’għemilhom jimminawha kontinwament.  Tal-PLPN jidher li jemmnu li għandhom xi dritt divin li jiddettaw it-tibdil meħtieġ għall-kostituzzjoni. B’għemilhom kontinwament jagħtu l-ġemb lill-konsultazzjoni pubblika.  Il-Kostituzzjoni, imma, mhiex tagħhom biss, iżda hi tagħna lkoll. Il-Parlament għaldaqstant m’għandu l-ebda dritt li jimponi riformi kostituzzjonali mingħajr konsultazzjoni pubblika adegwata.

Il-qbil li, fil-futur, il-President tar-Repubblika jkun elett b’appoġġ li ma jkunx inqas minn żewġ terzi tal-Membri tal-Parlament hu pass il-quddiem mis-sitwazzjoni attwali. Imma jikkuntrasta ma’ proposta ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika li ilha li ġiet ippreżentata lill-Konvenzjoni Kostituzzjonali  li biha l-Kunsilli Lokali, flimkien mal-Membri Parlamentari jkunu involuti direttament fil-ħatra tal-Kap tal-Istat.  Meta l-PLPN iddeċidew dwar din il-proposta kif ukoll dwar emendi oħra, bejniethom, bil-bibien magħluqin, kienu għal darb’oħra qed jagħtu bis-sieq lill-konsultazzjoni pubblika.  Il-ħatra tal-Kap tal-Istat m’għandhiex tibqa’ l-prerogativa tal-Parlament: ir-rapprezentanza demokratika fil-lokalitajiet ukoll għandha tkun involuta attivament f’din l-għażla.

Apparti li hemm bżonn mod aħjar milli għandna illum kif nagħżlu l-Kap tal-Istat wasal iż-żmien li nikkunsidraw jekk il-President tar-Repubblika għandux ikollu l-possibilità  li jirrifjuta li jiffirma liġi jekk ikun tal-fehma li din tmur kontra l-Kostituzzjoni. Anke dwar dan Alternattiva Demokratika ipproponiet lill-Konvenzjoni Kostituzzjonali li l-President għandu jkollu din ir-responsabbiltà li meta liġi jqisha li tmur kontra l-Kostituzzjoni jibgħatha lura lill-Parlament biex dan jikkunsidraha mill-ġdid.  Permezz tal-ġurament tal-ħatra l-President tar-Repubblika jwiegħed li jħares il-Kostituzzjoni, iżda mbagħad ma jingħata l-ebda għodda kostituzzjonali biex ikun jista’ jwettaq dan l-obbligu. L-awtorità morali tal-Kap tal-Istat mhiex biżżejjed biex jissavagwardja l-Kostituzzjoni meta l-Parlament ikun jidhrilu li jista’ jiġi jaqa’ u jqum minn kollox u minn kulħadd.

Mezzi oħra tal-media presentement qed jiffukaw fuq ir-rwol tal-istazzjonijiet tat-televiżjoni u r-radju tal-partiti politiċi. Anke dwar dan, repetutament, Alternattiva Demokratika emfasizzajna li f’demorkazija moderna dan ma jagħmilx sens, għalkemm dejjem irridu nżommu quddiem għajnejna ċ-ċirkustanzi li minħabba fihom il-partit laburista u l-partit nazzjonalista għandhom dawn il-mezzi.  Alternattiva Demokratika ipproponiet lill-Konvenzjoni Kostituzzjonali li l-istazzjonijiet tal-partiti politiċi għandhom jingħalqu u dan f’kuntest ta’ riforma mill-qiegħ tax-xandir fil-pajjiż. Il-PLPN għandhom kull interess li dibattitu bħal dan jostakolawh għax inkella jispiċċaw jitilfu l-kontroll li għandhom fuq ix-Xandir.

Il-proposti pendenti quddiem il-Konvenzjoni Kostituzzjonali huma bosta.

Bi qbil bejn il-PLPN, il-President tar-Repubblika intalab li jikkoordina l-Konvenzjoni Kostituzzjonali. Dan qed isir bl-assistenza ta’ kumitat magħmul minn rappresentanti tal-PLPN, tlieta minn kull naħa. Dan ilu għaddej is-snin, sa minn qabel ma nħatar il-President tar-Repubblika attwali.  S’issa, imma, jekk sar xi progress m’aħniex infurmati bih! Għax jidher li s-segretezza, sfortunatament, invadiet il-Palazz Presidenzjali ukoll.

Flok ma joqgħodu jilgħabu bil-Kostituzzjoni kull tant żmien, ikun ferm aħjar jekk induruha dawra sew flimkien u dan wara konsultazzjonI pubblika. Ir-riformi li jinħmew wara l-bibien magħluqin, il-metodu operattiv preferut tal-PLPN mhuwiex aċċettabbli.

ippubblikat fuq Illum : Il-Ħadd 9 t’Awwissu 2020

Undermining the Constitutional Convention

Edward Zammit Lewis, Justice Minister, has been euphoric on the constitutional changes agreed between the Labour government and the Nationalist Party. He describes it as a historic agreement.

It is however pertinent to point out that the agreed changes have been arrived at between Government and the Opposition behind closed doors. Once more public consultation has been discarded. The Constitutional Convention, currently in limbo, has been once more undermined. As emphasised earlier this week by Pieter Omtzigt, Dutch rapporteur of the Council of Europe on Malta and the rule of law: paper reforms are not enough.

In contrast to their public statements on the need for a constitutional convention, the parliamentary parties are continuously doing their utmost to undermine it. They seem to believe that they have some divine right to dictate the required improvements to the constitution. In so doing they continuously short-circuit public consultation. The Constitution belongs to all of us. Parliament has no right to impose constitutional changes without adequate public consultation.

The agreement relative to the election of future Heads of State by a two-thirds parliamentary majority, for example, while being an improvement on the present state of affairs, contrasts sharply with a Green proposal submitted to the Constitutional Convention, which proposal would require that local councils should be directly involved together with members of parliament in the process to elect a Head of State.

By deciding on the change behind closed doors the PNPL in Parliament have effectively short-circuited the public debate on this proposal. The election of the Head of State should not remain the prerogative of Parliament. Democratic representatives at a local level should be actively involved in this selection too.

In addition to improving the method of selection of the Head of State it is about time that we consider whether the incumbent should have the authority to refuse to sign legislation approved by Parliament which, in his/her opinion, is anti-Constitutional.

Greens have proposed to the Constitutional Convention that the Head of State should have the authority to send back to Parliament, for its reconsideration, any legislation which he/she considers to be in conflict with the Constitution. The Head of State, in terms of the constitutional oath of office, is bound to defend the constitution yet no constitutional tool is provided in order that this defence can be carried out. The Head of State’s moral authority is not enough to defend the Constitution whenever Parliament feels that it should ignore its provisions.

Other sections of the media are currently highlighting the role of political TV and radio stations. Maltese Greens have time and again drawn attention to the fact that the political media is a misfit in a modern democracy. Even in this respect a Green submission to the Constitutional Convention advocates the dismantling of the political stations within the framework of a radical broadcasting reform. PNPL have an interest in procrastinating a debate which could lead to their being cut down to size and losing control of the broadcasting waves.

Where do we go from here? The proposals pending at the secretariat of the Constitutional Convention are many.

As a result of a PNPL agreement, the President of the Republic has been appointed to lead the Constitutional Convention. The Head of State is presumably coordinating the input received with the assistance of a committee made up of PLPN representatives. This exercise has been going on for ages, since well before the current President was appointed.  Whatever progress has been possibly achieved is not known as everything, so far, is being done behind closed doors. Unnecessary secrecy has also invaded and taken control of the Presidential Palace!

It is about time that instead of having piecemeal adjustments to the Constitution, this is given a complete overhaul after adequate public consultation.  Paper reform behind closed doors, the preferred method of operation of the PNPL is definitely not acceptable.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday: 9 August 2020

L-għanqbuta

Ir-riżenja tal-avukat żagħżugħ Charles Mercieca mill-uffiċċju tal-Avukat Ġenerali, malajr, biex immedjatament jassumni d-difiża ta’ Yorgen Fenech mhiex riżenja komuni.

F’ċirkustanzi differenti ma kienet tfisser xejn.

Tassumi sinifikat fil-kuntest li saret u fid-dawl tal-ismijiet diġà magħrufa. Fil-kuntest tal-investigazzjonijiet li għadhom għaddejjin dwar il-qtil ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia tfisser ħafna.

Edward Zammit Lewis, Ministru tal-Ġustizzja, ddeskriva r-riżenja bħala insensittiva. Għal min insensittiva?

Naħseb li ż-żmien għad juri li hi agħar minn hekk.

Qed tifforma għanqbuta minsuġa bi kważi perfezzjoni u b’finanzi bla limitu. Uħud li qed jissemmew rari jidhru fil-pubbliku. Anzi jevitaw li jidhru bħal donnhom jistħu jidhru. Imma donnhom jippjanaw sew u rari jfallilhom.

Żelqilhom wieħed Melvyn Theuma. Jidher li għadhom qed jippruvaw jirrimedjaw il-konsegwenzi.

Kif ser tinħatar il-ġudikatura?

Qalulna dan l-aħħar li ftehmu. Il-Ministru tal-Ġustizzja Edward Zammit Lewis qal li mal-PN ftiehem. Li l-PN u l-PL ftehmu bejniethom u li soġġett għall-approvazzjoni tal-Kummissjoni Venezja tal-Kunsill tal-Ewropa l-kaz hu prattikament magħluq.

Jiġifieri ftehmu bil-biebien magħluqa. Dan mhux sewwa u huwa inaċċettabbli anke jekk ġew ispirati mill-Kummissjoni Venezja innifisha, kif qal Zammit Lewis.

Ilkoll kemm aħna jinteressana li nikkontribwixxu għad-diskussjoni dwar kif għandhom jinħatru l-membri tal-ġudikatur. Allura għalfejn dawn id-diskussjonijiet isiru bil-bibien magħluqin?

Dawn affarijiet li jiġru f’repubblika tal-banana.

Financing politics: one size fits all

one size fits all 2one-size-fits-all

 

The proposed legislation on the financing of political parties in Malta is a “one size fits all” exercise.

The Bill proposed by Minister for Justice Owen Bonnici still proposes the Electoral Commission as the administrator of the law. This is unacceptable because the Electoral Commission is directed exclusively by the two Parliamentary parties to the exclusion of the rest of civil society. AD disagrees with this proposal and is of the opinion that when this Bill is approved  by Parliament it should be operated by the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life in accordance to the legislative proposal approved by a Parliamentary Select Committee and currently pending for the consideration of the House of Representatives. According to the pending proposal this Commissioner for Standards in Public Life should be supported by not less than two thirds  of Members of Parliament in order to be elected.  This would be a substantial improvement on the Bill on the Financing of Political Parties.

Notwithstanding the above Alternattiva Demokratika has noted the amendment proposed (through the Bill’s clause number 47) to the definition of the term “political party” in article 2 of the General Elections Act. As a result of this proposed amendment the right of access to information held by the Electoral Commission to all registered political parties will for the first time be non-discriminatory. Whilst this will be a substantial improvement on the present state of affairs, it is not good enough.

The Bill places heavy financial and administrative burdens on Alternattiva Demokratika exclusively as a result of the responsibilities resulting from the workings of the proposed legislation. AD will be required to employ a suitably qualified person in order to be in line with the provisions of this Bill. AD does not have the resources to shoulder these responsibilities. This is an impact which was anticipated. In fact during the public consultation carried out on the White Paper on the same topic AD presented a specific proposal. Notwithstanding that the Minister for Justice had then declared that he would consider AD’s proposal, it now results that this has been ignored.

Parliament will be discussing the Bill on the Financing of Political Parties, shortly, before the summer recess. I hope that it will be substantially improved.