A limit on the number of persons of trust will be imposed on Malta’s ministries, Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis revealed in reply to the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission detailing the government’s plans for institutional reform.
Persons of trust have been a long-standing issue in Malta, with hundreds of people being employed in the scheme. However, the letter says that a clear legal basis will be established in the controversial system.
A rolling public call in judicial appointments will be retained. However, vacancies will be made more available to candidates both from inside and outside the judiciary.
The JAC will then propose three candidates to the President of Malta who will be taken with making the final choice.
The Judicial Appointments Committee will now have two judges and a magistrate elected by their peers. Meanwhile, the public prosecutor will be removed, with the State Advocate taking their place. The Chief Justice will continue presiding over the committee.
The appointment of High-ranking officials, namely at the Employment Commission, the Central Bank, the Malta Financial Services Authority, and the Board of Arbitration will need to be taken by cabinet and not the Prime Minister himself.
The Leader of the Opposition will need to be consulted on the appointment of the Information and Data Protection.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretaries will now be appointed by the President on the advice of cabinet following recommendations from the Public Service Commission.
Zammit Lewis also revealed that the Chairperson of the Permanent Commission against Corruption will need to be approved by a two-thirds majority of parliament. PCAC reports will also be passed onto the public prosecutor.
The government disagreed with the Venice Commission’s recommendations for the Chief Justice and stood by a two-thirds majority agreement in Parliament.
The commission first flagged issues in 2018, with changes to the Attorney General role already implemented.
Zammit Lewis will now wait for a reply from the Commission for their opinion on the measures.