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The Literal Faculty – the rule of law and its critics


Dr Kevin Aquilina (signing off as Dean of the Faculty of Law) penned an article in today’s Independent. In this article entitled “Demicoli v. Malta – Part two“, Aquilina decides that by calling for the resignation of both the advocate general and the police commissioner, civil society organisations “have taken it upon themselves to charge, prosecute, give evidence against, convict and punish, through dismissal from office, both the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General”. Having equated the call for double resignation to the action of a subversive kangaroo court, Kevin Aquilina concludes that civil society is in breach of the rule of law that it claims to want to sustain.

Dr Aquilina misses the wood for the trees. The call by civil society is for the removal of the AG and PC, that much is true. What Dr Aquilina either misunderstands or willingly misinterprets is that due process must and should be followed in both cases. Civil society is asking for nothing more and nothing less than the application of the law to cases where prima facie evidence points glaringly that it should be applied – but isn’t. Dr Aquilina tries to put the ball wrongly in civil society’s court. It is not.

The failure to act on the FIAU report has been cited as the glaring failure on the part of the AG and the PC. It is one of many practical examples that can be presented to the Public Service Commission (in the case of the police commissioner) and to parliament and subsequently to the Commission for the Administration of Justice (in the case of the attorney general).

Far from mob rule, the civil society demands translate into a call for the application of the rule of law. Civil society are pointing out that the failure to fulfil their institutional duties by both the PC and AG requires a remedy – remedies that are available at law and have hitherto not been applied.

Of course both the police commissioner and attorney general deserve a due process as guaranteed by law. Of course they would obtain due process should the law be applied. The problem, Dr Aquilina, is that the law is not being applied. The problem is that certain prerogatives are not being used. The problem is that in doing so the whole system that depends upon the proper application of the rule of law becomes a shambles and a farce.

Seen in that context, accusing civil society of advocating mob rule and not the rule of law makes the accuser part of the problem and not part of a possible solution.

Malta needs less Shylocks and more Ciceros.

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