A Nationalist Party delegation led by party leader Bernard Grech met with President George Vella earlier today to discuss the party’s concerns about a Bill currently being debated in parliament.
The Bill seeks to change the Interpretation Act – a law that governs the language in which Maltese laws are interpreted – by including a provision that would allow administrative fines issued by Maltese regulatory entities to be interpreted as criminal punishment.
The proposed amendment is intended to bring Malta in line with Moneyval recommendations, which required Malta to implement changes that would prevent sanctions from being delayed by judicial processes.
The Bill, currently in its second reading, was tabled in parliament by Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, after he was forced to withdraw a similar Bill which looked to change the constitution.
Any change to the constitution – the supreme law of the land – requires the support of at least two-thirds of the House, which despite its large majority, the government does not have.
In its statement, the PN said that which was being proposed went “manifestly against the constitution and will be impacting the fundamental rights that every person enjoys under the constitution”.
The delegation also pointed out that Malta’s Constitutional Court had “already handed down a number of sentences about this subject and there is no doubt that what the Minister is doing goes against the Constitution”.
The proposed changes have been criticised by a number of leading legal scholars, including former Commissioner for Laws Franco Debono, European Court of Human Rights Giovanni Bonello, former Attorney General and European Court of Justice judge Anthony Borg Barthet and the former Dean of the Faculty of Laws Kevin Aquilina.
The Chamber of Advocates has also called on the government to scrap the proposed changes.
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