Rule of Law?

One of the most overused phrases in Maltese politics these last few years must be “rule of law.” It’s obvious that many politicians twist and warp the meaning of that phrase to fool the public. Sometimes they twist the meaning so much they trip themselves up.

This article explains how ex-Prime minister Muscat revealed there is no proper rule of law, implicating himself in the process.

THE BASIC PREMISE

Encyclopedias define the rule of law as “The authority and influence of law in society.”1 In other words all members of a society are equal in the eyes of the law, including those in government.

It sounds like an obvious common sense statement, which is good.

I’ve written about how Malta doesn’t have a proper justice system because of the potential for undue influence.

I argue it’s not enough to say, “The Prime Minister didn’t interfere in a police investigation.” It is a fact the Prime Minister can interfere in an investigation.

Ex-Prime Minister Muscat being interviewed by the Times of Malta

If a Prime Minister can do this, we have no way of knowing for sure it didn’t happen. Since we can’t prove this, we cannot say we have a proper justice system in Malta.

This brings me to the investigation into the Caruana Galizia assassination. Any other government would have bent over backwards to make sure there was no undue influence.

Right?

MUDDYING THE WATERS

In fairness, Malta’s government did reassure everyone the process was fair, correct, etc.

Which is what it would say no matter what the truth was.

It follows that if we want to see if the process was fair we therefore cannot take the government’s word for it. We have to look elsewhere.

This conclusion does not mean the government did meddle in the investigation.

It’s possible Mr Muscat is incompetent, not a criminal.

We should focus on the action, not the person. It’s not that Mr Muscat is criminal; it’s that his actions are criminal.

So why do I say Mr Muscat implicated himself?

SLIP OF THE TONGUE

On 20 November, The Times of Malta carried a report on Mr Muscat’s insistence he won’t resign. The precise wording is:

Amid pressure for is own resignation from activists and opposition politicians, Dr Muscat on Wednesday dismissed stepping down to prevent unduly influencing ongoing investigations.

Times of Malta; 2019-11-20

Mr Muscat was clear about his situation. If he stepped down at the time he would influence the investigation.

If we did have the rule of law then police investigations would work in a correct manner, no matter who the Prime Minister is.

Mr Muscat’s statement contradicts this; his resignation at the time would have influenced the investigation.

Which means that, as of last November, the investigation wasn’t being handled in a fair way because his presence made a difference.

CONCLUSION

I don’t think my point will surprise many people. All the developments since November show that this conclusion is a reasonable one.

I am surprised no one noticed Mr Muscat admitted this.

But I shouldn’t be surprised this was disappeared under the avalanche of scandals and unbelievable facts we’ve heard since November.

References

  1. Rule of law; Encyclopedia Britannica; 2019-08-27
  2. ‘I am protecting no-one’ Muscat insists as resignations pressure mounts‘; Jacob Borg; Times of Malta; 2019-11-20

All references were valid and correct when this article was published. Changes to referenced websites or web pages may render some references invalid. If this is the case, please leave a comment below.


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