Civil society group Repubblika has threatened to hold the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations (CVO) responsible for losses suffered as a result of action he has initiated against them, while also warning that it is prepared to take further legal action against his office.
Repubblika wrote to Commissioner Anthony Abela Medici last week, regarding a threat made by the commissioner earlier in February, to delist the group from the Voluntary Organisations (VO) register over what he described as breaches of the law governing voluntary organisations.
In its letter, Repubblika reminds the commissioner that the matter remained pending and that it faces “further consequences in the normal conduct of its business because of the damage caused to [its] reputation by [the commissioner’s baseless accusations”.
It warned the commissioner that it was holding him personally responsible for losses suffered as a result of his “vexatious and abusive action”.
“We also reiterate that your action and this unacceptable delay in concluding the matter is, therefore, an assault on our freedom of association and our right to free expression,” Repubblika said.
“Consider this as our last warning before we take further legal action to protect Repubblika from oppression and censorship at your hands.”
The accusations made by the commissioner regarding Repubblika included the claim that the group was politically affiliated, with the commissioner backing up his argument by pointing to the fact that members of the civil society group had published opinion pieces in the independent media regarding political issues.
Repubblika had filed a judicial protest on 9th March, calling on the commissioner to stop his “illegal and anti-constitutional” behaviour, while formally calling on him to withdraw his threat to delist the VO.
The commissioner replied a month later, on 6th April, seemingly toning down his threat and insisting that, as regards the group’s political affiliation, he “wanted to determine whether it is the case that Repubblika is controlled by, related or affiliated with a political party in terms of the law”.
The commissioner goes on to say that he has not yet taken a decision and is waiting for Repubblika to make its submissions.
Repubblika replied through a letter some days later, welcoming the assertion that a decision had not been taken, but also pointing out that the commissioner’s original letter clearly said otherwise.
It also reiterated that it did not see the need for it to make any changes, especially not to its statute, which was approved by the commissioner’s office only two years ago.
Since the commissioner’s reply back in April, Repubblika has heard nothing from the CVO.
Lovin Malta has reached out to CVO and is awaiting a response.
What do you make of the commissioner’s threat?