Speaking in parliament last night, ex-Minister Manuel Mallia took a swipe at whoever had anything to do with the leaking FIAU documents. In a scene befitting pre-1989 East Germany, Mallia told parliament that the leaker of the report as well as anybody having access to it (including the PN) should be prosecuted because they are guilty of a crime having violated the confidentiality of said documents. “The documents of the FIAU needed to be kept secret because the unit’s investigations were sensitive and disclosure of information would undermine those very investigations”, Dr Mallia said.
What we have here is a clear example of “rule-by-law” where the strict letter of the law is used to silent dissent and to annihilate any possible means of rendering the powers that be accountable. Manuel Mallia’s threats, for threats they are, do not come in a vacuum. They must be put in the context of the dismissal of former FIAU official Jonathan Ferris and of the FIAU Head of Compliance. They must be put in the context of the admission by most of the national press that they have been forced to revise archived reports under threat of expensive litigation. This must also be put in context of the lack of collaboration reported by the European Parliament PANA committee
In any other context but this, this matter would be considered as Whistleblower territory. In any other context the content of the leaked document would be of much graver concern, the consequences of the failure to act upon the content of such documents would be the focus of a responsible government. This is not another context. This is Malta of L-Aqwa Zmien – rule by law is misconstrued as rule of law, anything in the power of government to hide, to shut down criticism, to avoid proper scrutiny, to annihilate any dissonant narrative is fair game.
We are living in a time of Rule-By-Law. This is also why the calls for a return to a system of rule of law are being made. In contrast to rule-by-law (rule by means of norms enacted through a correct legal procedure or issued by a public authority), Rule of Law implies also the safeguarding of fundamental rights and freedoms – norms which render the law binding not simply because it is procedurally correct but enshrines justice. It is the Rule of Law, thus understood, that provides legitimacy to public authority in liberal democracies.
Meanwhile Manuel Mallia’s witch-hunt had better expand internationally: Green MEP Sven Giegold’s website contains a link to leaked FIAU documents.