Response to the report of the Commissioner for Standards – 5/3/2024

For the Full Report of the Commissioner, including our complaint and the response of the Prime Minister, click here

On 22nd February, 2023, GħSL lodged a complaint with the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life against the Prime Minister, requesting an investigation into two incidents:

  1. Comments made by the Prime Minister on 22nd and 23rd January, 2023, regarding cases pending judicial consideration.
  2. Comments made by the Prime Minister on 29th January, 2023, wherein he revealed private conversations with a magistrate on sentencing policies.

Yesterday, 4th of March, 2024, the Commissioner for Standards published a report on the first incident. The Commissioner found no breach of the Code of Ethics for Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries. The Commissioner based this decision on a legal appreciation of court doctrine. While GħSL respects the Commissioner’s decision, it views it as a missed opportunity to uphold a high level of ministerial standards.

The report fails, in our opinion, to grasp the spirit of the Code of Ethics, which is to ensure that Ministers respect the institutions.

While GħSL agrees that persons who are subject to the Code may comment on events of public interest, a proper balance must be found between the latter and subsequent criminal proceedings.

GħSL believes that comments made by Ministers urging the Courts not to grant bail or encouraging jurors to be harsh with the accused, as recognized by the Commissioner, violate fundamental human rights and do not meet the expected standards of ethics for persons in public life.

Recognizing that the perception of justice holds equal importance to justice itself is imperative, as it acknowledges our shared humanity and the democratical values that our country is based upon.

In view that this complaint was not a stand alone and part of a series of events, GħSL appeals to persons in public life to maintain high standards in their discourse on judicial processes and towards members of the judiciary.