Public servants who use private emails, WhatsApp, Messenger or other forms of private communication to carry out their government duties should face imprisonment, the Nationalist Party has proposed.
“We know that there were people who used their private emails to carry out official state communication, including a Prime Minister who chose to negotiate important issues through his private email,” Opposition leader Bernard Grech told a press conference this morning, referring to Joseph Muscat.
The PN issued this proposal in a wide-ranging bill intended to improve good governance, with the aim being that state communication should be the property of the state and not individual public officers.
“This law will impact daily government operations,” Grech said. “Private messages on private issues should be carried out privately but there should be an obligation for messages related to public duties to be carried out through official communications.”
This bill proposes that “any official or public servant who makes use of unauthorised or non-official electronic resources in accordance with the law for the commission of acts for the pursuit of, or in the exercise of, the public authority vested in him or by the exercise thereof, is guilty of an offence and in the event of guilt a penalty of one to eight years imprisonment shall be imposed.”
Other proposals include introducing unexplained wealth orders, specifically criminalising organised crime, abuse of authority, dereliction of duty, obstruction of justice, and establishing a magistrate’s office focused fully on investigating corruption.
The party also called for the limitation of powers vested in interim governments so as to prevent the misuse of state resources for the political benefit of the party in power.
Police, they said, should also be allowed to detain people for up to 72 hours, up from the current 48 hours, so long as they’ve been suspected of serious crimes and obtain the inquiring magistrate’s approval. This power cannot be applied more than once per suspect.
Meanwhile, they called for a new anti-SLAPP law and for the right to a free press to be enshrined in the Constitution.
Do you agree with this proposal?