Censure motion is about standards of government - Farrugia
Opposition deputy leader Anglu Farrugia said in parliament this evening that the Opposition acknowledged that in moving the censure motion against Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici, it was setting standards which a Labour government too would be expected to respect.
Speaking during the debate on the motion, Dr Farrugia said that this government had not put this motion on the agenda of the House for five months was a shameful.
Dr Farrugia said he acknowledged the personal integrity of the minister, but this motion was about his actions as a minister.
Dr Farrugia criticised the minister for failing to take prompt action over court judgements which struck down unconstitutional laws. He also said that Malta had been embarrassed in a Council of Europe report which showed that Malta had among the highest rates of prisoners awaiting trial. Also worrying, he said, was the drugs situation at the prisons.
He said the minister should have taken action to ensure that the clearance rate at the law courts improved.
Dr Farrugia said that while Labour used to be criticised about 'musical chairs' involving the judges, the same could be said of this government about appointments to the Constitutional court and the appeals court, with judges being passed over despite their seniority.
He also said that certain cases involving the government were always being appointed before two judges.
Health Minister Joseph Cassar praised Dr Mifsud Bonnici for his work to protect children, such as the introduction of the Child Offenders List which was not limited to sex crimes, but also other crimes such as the sale of drugs to minors. He had also moved legislation to deter sexual tourism.
Turning to the situation at the prisons, Dr Cassar said the presence of drugs in the prisons existed all over the world. Unfortunately the Opposition never noted the positive sides of the prison system in Malta, including prisoners who reformed themselves, some of them even furthering their education.
Tourism Minister Mario de Marco underlined the training being given to the members of the police force and the way how the police are being equipped to tackle the increasingly sophisticated forms of crime. The investment was paying off, with the crime rate going down. The police force was clearly on the right track.
Dr de Marco also praised Dr Mifsud Bonnici over his handling of the problem of immigration and for his work in the enactment of the Reparative Justice Act.
On the law on legal assistance to arrested persons, mentioned in the opposition's motion, Dr de Marco said the introduction of this concept was a step in the right direction. Like everything else, more could be done. That was why parliamentary debate was held. But the situation in this sector was vastly different from the state under the Labour governments pre-1987 when people under arrest were released after the maximum 48 hours and promptly re-arrested as soon as they stepped out of police headquarters.
The motion also spoke about the distinction between the government and the judiciary. Dr de Marco said he was sure that nobody doubted that such separation existed, but this was not the case in same Labour years. And cases were now assigned by the Chief Justice, not the Minister of Justice.
On documents reportedly missing, Dr de Marco said only one document was lost in five years. He did not know why this featured in the motion and how Dr Mifsud Bonnici could be held responsible for this.
Dr Chris Cardona (PL) said the reparative justice law was introduced in text only because even the Parole Board had not been set up yet.
He said that no one had so far denied the points raised by Michael Falzon at the opening of this debate.
Dr Cardona defended the Opposition's right o present a motion such as this, in the interest of parliamentary scrutiny.
This, he said, was not a personal attack, and never was.