The House Business Committee Approved the Ombudsplan 2024

In a special session presided over by the Speaker of the House, the Hon. Anglu Farrugia, the House Business Committee discussed the Ombudsplan for 2024. The Parliamentary Ombudsman, Judge Emeritus Joseph Zammit McKeon, presented the key topics outlined in this year’s report.

The Ombudsman proposed that Parliament discuss the reports sent when recommendations are not implemented. This echoes the Speaker’s call during the commemoration of the Sette Giugno events for a mechanism to address these within a parliamentary committee. He stressed the public’s demand for fairness and accountability in Government, urging collaboration between the public administration and the Office to promptly resolve complaints.

He explained that the Office of the Ombudsman, distinct from the Courts of Justice, does not deliver judgements but oversees the operations of the public authorities and makes recommendations. The Ombudsman asserted that recommendations result from meticulous fact-finding, which should encourage the government to implement these recommendations.

He highlighted the role of the Ombudsman and Commissioners as agents of change, capable of influencing policy and legislation. The Office is committed to listening to and assisting both the public and the public administration. He mentioned that the institution has a good working relationship with the public administration and emphasised that he will strive to improve it.

A proposal was made to transpose the right to good administration and the principles of good governance from Article 41 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights into Maltese law, possibly into the Constitution. This includes the right of every person to be heard before any individual measure that would adversely affect them is taken. The Ombudsman also noted that Protocol No. 12 of the ECHR, ratified by Malta, has not been incorporated into domestic law, urging immediate government remedial action.

The Ombudsplan 2024 proposes suspending the six-month limitation period for judicial review of administrative actions while a complaint is under investigation. Additionally, the Ombudsman suggested expanding his remit to cover human rights protection, advocating for the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution in Malta.

The session concluded with the House Business Committee recommending that the budget for the Office of the Ombudsman be approved by the Plenary Session.

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