STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY FOR JUSTICE, CULTURE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Simon Busuttil and Jason Azzopardi in a fundamental contradiction

Reference is made to two separate urgent applications filed today in the First Hall Civil Court by Opposition MPs Simon Busuttil and Jason Azzopardi which were filed in the acts of a case which was also initiated today.

Through these applications, the Court was, inter alia, asked to halt the appointment of three Judges and three Magistrates. The members of the Judiciary were eventually sworn in following a decree by the First Hall (Civil Court) presided by Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti which dismissed the request.

It is ironic that the two members of the Opposition left no stone unturned to halt the appointments from taking place, despite the fact that they themselves, in Parliament, back in 2016 voted in favour of the same method of appointment with which those new members of the judiciary were sworn in.

More so, through their actions, the two Opposition MPs are saying that all members of the judiciary which were appointed by successive governments, including that which they used to form part of and using a system which was less transparent than the present one, are not impartial or independent. This is an unprecedented fierce attack on the Judiciary.

It has to be reminded that following Constitutional changes which were unanimously approved in the House of Representatives in by means of Act XLIV of 2016 which entered into force on the 5th of August 2016, appointments to the judiciary could only be undertaken following a written advice from the Judiciary Appointment Committee which is made up of the Chief Justice, the Auditor General, the Ombudsman and the President of the Chamber of Advocates. Both Busuttil and Azzopardi had voted in favour and approved this system which is more transparent than that which had been utilised by the various governments until then. This new system was also described as a positive step forward by the Venice Commission.

It is bewildering how the two Opposition MPs are against the use of the method which they had themselves voted in favour.

The government is determined to keep improving the justice sector and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.