Malta’s new Justice Minister Jonathan Attard has advocated case timeframes as a means of clamping down on excessive court delays, a problem that has been plaguing Malta’s judicial system for years.
In a recent interview with Lovin Malta, Attard admitted he is concerned by how long several cases take, and that justice mustn’t only be done and seen to be done but also done “in a reasonable timeframe”.
“Some delays don’t make sense to the accused, the victim or society,” he warned. “It’s an absolute priority for us to make decisions and implement reforms so as to seriously address this reality that has been with us for a long time.”
“Following the implementation of a number of reforms, we have now reached a stage where we can truly address this situation.”
Attard said that while cases shouldn’t be generalised, there should be a legal system of pre-established timeframes to ensure they don’t drag out unnecessarily.
“However, we shouldn’t go to another extremity,” he cautioned. “We want to speed up the process, which means that things must take place well, more systematically and more efficiently. We cannot generalise and say so-and-so cases must be processed within a certain span of time but certainly the average time some cases are taking doesn’t make sense.”
With regards criminal cases, he also called for a reform in the compilation of evidence process, noting that the UK – a jurisdiction Malta had based its system on – had updated its system several years ago.
“There are certain procedures which have been with us for years and which we adopted from other jurisdictions like the UK which have since dropped those processes,” he noted.
Former PN MP Jason Azzopardi, a lawyer, had raised these concerns three years ago, calling for a “wholesale root and branch reform” of the compilation of evidence process so as to clamp down on huge delays that prolong the trauma of victims.
In 2021, then Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis pledged to reform the compilation of evidence process to clamp down on delays but it has yet to materialise and was proposed as one of PL’s 1,000 electoral promises.
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