Statement on the Independence of the Judiciary – 13th April 2023

GħSL refers to a statement written on the 10th of March 2023 wherein it was stated that:

“GħSL unequivocally condemns any attempt to compromise or manipulate the judiciary’s independence. It is deeply concerning that the Prime Minister’s comments appear to undermine the autonomy of the judiciary by seeking to shift public sentiment against the Courts and particular members of the judiciary, knowing that members of the judiciary have no right of reply. GħSL refers to plenary session 95 of the 6th of March 2023. The Prime Minister, after commenting on the impressive statistic of decided cases by a specific member of the judiciary, insinuated that the magistrate in the magisterial inquiry into the death of Jean Paul Sofia should emulate this statistic. In a video interview broadcasted on the Times of Malta on the 8th of March 2023, the Prime Minister appealed directly to the inquiring magistrate to conclude the procès-verbal without further delay. These comments were made in light of calls for the initiation of a public inquiry into the death of Jean Paul Sofia.”

Today, the Prime Minister published a letter written to the Chief Justice asking him to call on Magistrate Marseanne Farrugia to speed up the magisterial inquiry into the death of Jean Paul Sofia. GħSL reiterates once again that the executive government is in no position to dictate judicial proceedings. It is the judiciary which determines judicial proceedings, having regard to the quality of justice not the quantity. The Prime Minister’s comments attempt to prejudice the delicate and meticulous process of collection and preservation of evidence. Political convenience is no excuse to scapegoat and place undue pressure on the judiciary; the tenet of the separation of powers is greater than quick and cheap attempts to sway public attention.

The proper course of action for the Prime Minister to address shortcomings of members of the judiciary is to ask the Commission on the Administration of Justice to initiate an investigation on any particular member of the judiciary as per article 101A of the Constitution. Public denouncement only serves to cloud judgement and prejudice the case at hand. Delays are addressed by efficient allocation of resources to all members and staff, thus the implication that the judiciary is at fault is improper and devious.