How the rule of law is be­ing un­der­mined

In the run-up of the last gen­eral elec­tion, the Sun­day Times of Malta had car­ried a large box in very prom­i­nent places and var­i­ous times in the pa­per (both on the tra­di­tional and on­line ver­sion) read­ing: HOW THE RULE OF LAW IS BE­ING UN­DER­MINED. Be­neath th

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Even the nar­ra­tive which was be­ing used at the time made it very clear that I was be­ing tar­geted as be­ing one of the main cul­prits of the al­leged un­der­min­ing of the rule of law here in Malta.

I have to ad­mit that that nar­ra­tive hurt and it hurt a great deal.

I am a lawyer by pro­fes­sion and be­ing ac­cused of un­der­min­ing the rule of law is the great­est in­sult one can be charged with. Se­condly, it hurt be­cause I had spent the pre­vi­ous five years do­ing a num­ber of dif­fi­cult re­forms which were long over­due - in­clud­ing the reg­u­la­tion of po­lit­i­cal par­ties, the strik­ing off of time-bar­ring by pre­scrip­tion upon ac­cu­sa­tions of cor­rup­tion by politi­cians, a whistle­blow­ers’ act, a new leg­isla­tive re­form max­imis­ing artis­tic free­dom and a Con­sti­tu­tional re­form which pro­vided for, amongst other things, a new Ju­di­cial ap­point­ments com­mit­tee made up of in­de­pen­dent of­fice hold­ers.

I gave my 200% and in the process I made the al­most-fa­tal po­lit­i­cal mis­take (for me) of fo­cus­ing all my en­ergy on Gov­ern­ment busi­ness and leav­ing lit­tle time to con­stituency mat­ters. True, that was a mis­take which I def­i­nitely will not re­peat from my part but look­ing back I am proud of what was achieved in so lit­tle time in terms of pro-demo­cratic re­forms. These are re­sults which are there for the ben­e­fit of our and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. I can­not see how all those re­forms could have passed in around 4 short years had my team and I not fo­cused all our en­ergy on Gov­ern­ment busi­ness. This leg­is­la­ture has been very pro­duc­tive as well on those is­sues – suf­fice it to men­tion the new law on the grilling of Chair­per­sons and the new Me­dia and Defama­tion Act which is one of the most pro­gres­sive laws reg­u­lat­ing me­dia in Europe.

Far from un­der­min­ing the rule of law, we have ac­tu­ally strength­ened to rule of law with a num­ber of re­forms which were long over­due and we placed all our en­ergy and ded­i­ca­tion to do that.

I was told my a num­ber of friends which used to form part of this “rule of law lobby” that there was a strong link be­tween this mam­moth ef­fort in the Times of Malta to por­tray the im­age that the rule of law in Malta was fail­ing and the then Leader of the Op­po­si­tion Si­mon Busut­til. Busut­til and his team were co-or­di­nat­ing and push­ing for­ward the mes­sage in a num­ber of friendly me­dia out­lets in key mo­ments in the run up to the elec­tions.

That is why I ab­so­lutely can­not bear the cheek with which the same Busut­til is him­self un­der­min­ing the rule of law by telling ev­ery­one that he does not care a hoot about the con­clu­sions of a de­tailed Mag­is­te­rial In­quiry on a very se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tion lev­elled against the Prime Min­is­ter and his wife. Each time that Busut­til is re­fut­ing the con­clu­sions of the Egrant in­quiry, the same Busut­til is un­der­min­ing the rule of law. The ba­sic prin­ci­ple of the rule of law is that in­de­pen­dent Courts pro­nounce their judg­ments and de­ci­sions which are to be re­spected by all and sundry. The fact that Busut­til is throw­ing this prin­ci­ple out of the win­dow with his care­less and dan­ger­ous pro­nounce­ments speaks vol­umes about how ir­re­spon­si­ble this per­son is.

We, as a Gov­ern­ment, have al­ways ac­cepted the fi­nal ver­dicts of the Courts. That is the real test of the rule of law. The po­lit­i­cally hope­less Busut­til does the op­po­site.

Let me re­mind the read­ers that in the case of the Egrant in­quiry, an in­de­pen­dent Mag­is­trate found out that the al­le­ga­tions lev­elled against the Prime Min­is­ter and his fam­ily were to­tally false and that the doc­u­ments which were pub­lished to sup­pos­edly prove the al­le­ga­tions were forged and fab­ri­cated. The In­de­pen­dent Mag­is­trate took more than a year to ar­rive to that con­clu­sion af­ter hear­ing hun­dreds of wit­nesses and mak­ing use of in­ter­na­tional foren­sic ex­perts. The prin­ci­pal con­clu­sions of the in­quiry were im­me­di­ately made pub­lic and the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion Dr Adrian Delia to his credit im­me­di­ately ac­cepted the ver­dict of the In­quiry – as, af­ter all, any per­son truly em­brac­ing the rule of law should do. Other lead­ing au­thors, such as Mr Martin Sci­cluna, lauded the work done by the In­quir­ing Mag­is­trate and in­deed it is im­pres­sive.

The In­quiry cost our coun­try al­most a mil­lion and a half Eu­ros and was by far the costli­est in­quiry ever made.

For Si­mon Busut­til, the se­rial loser, all this does not mat­ter one bit. Rather than apol­o­gis­ing to Dr Mus­cat and his fam­ily, he re­peated the ac­cu­sa­tions as if the In­quiry did not hap­pen. Rather than con­demn­ing the peo­ple who tried to frame an in­no­cent fam­ily – fam­ily Mus­cat – Busut­til al­leged that he was about to be framed!

If Busut­til was not so dan­ger­ous, he would be pa­thetic. He should re­sign im­me­di­ately from the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives as he is not fit to be a mem­ber of the high­est in­sti­tu­tion of the land.

Not apol­o­gis­ing for bas­ing your po­lit­i­cal ca­reer on a fab­ri­cated lie is a se­ri­ous enough mat­ter. Choos­ing to rape the very essence of the rule of law by dis­card­ing com­pletely the con­clu­sions of a ma­jor Mag­is­te­rial In­quiry is com­pletely un­ac­cept­able, ir­re­spon­si­ble and grave.

In the name of God, go!

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