Last Wednesday, various amendments to the Constitution of Malta were passed unanimously by the Maltese Parliament. These historical amendments are the most remarkable since the island became a Republic back in 1974.
One significant reform affirms that the next President is to be appointed by a parliamentary majority of at least two thirds, rather than a simple majority. Furthermore, the new amendments provide that members of the judiciary will not be appointed by government discretion anymore. They will henceforth will be appointed by the President, advised by the Judicial Appointments Committee.
More reforms passed involve the election for the Chief Justice, which from now on will require a two-thirds majority in Parliament. The same majority requirements will now apply for the election of the chairman of the Permanent Commission Against Corruption. Moreover, the aforementioned amendments introduce the right for a judicial review for the Ombudsman, the Auditor General, the Permanent Commission Against Corruption and the Commissioner for Standards.
These reforms were based on a package of recommendations made by the Venice Commission, a group of rule of law experts from the Council of Europe.
Previously on June 9th, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed satisfaction in the Maltese Government’s then reform plans. In a letter addressed to the Maltese Prime Minister, she said that she viewed the plans as ‘a positive step and a sign of the commitment of the Maltese Government to strengthening the rule of law and judicial independence.’ She then encouraged the Maltese Government to remain engaged in dialogue with the Venice Commission with the aim of wholly implementing its recommendations.