A delegation from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe met with Parliamentary Ombudsman Judge Emeritus Joseph Zammit McKeon. This encounter was part of a monitoring visit focusing on Malta’s application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government since the last monitoring report adopted by the Congress in 2017.
Since Malta ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 1993, it is obliged to adhere to its provisions. These provisions represent the fundamental principles of local self-government in Europe. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities supervises the adherence to these principles.
The meeting’s agenda covered issues concerning Local Councils in Malta and Human rights. The Ombudsman outlined his responsibilities towards local councils. He elaborated on how these councils fall within his jurisdiction, subject to investigation following complaints or on his own initiative. Local councils can also lodge complaints against government entities for maladministration. He provided examples of common issues, particularly relating to maintenance, road upkeep, and resident-incurred damages.
Regarding Human Rights, the Ombudsman highlighted that despite not being a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), his office addresses human rights issues. Malta currently lacks an NHRI, and since 2012, the Ombudsman’s Office has advocated for the Ombudsman to be designated as Malta’s official NHRI.
The Congress delegation included rapporteurs Matthias Gysin (Switzerland, ILDG) and Cecilia Feliczitasz Friderics (Hungary, ECR), accompanied by Prof. Francesco Palermo, a Member of the Group of Independent Experts on the European Charter of Local Self-Government (Italy). Their visit spanned from the 7th to the 9th of November 2023. The Ombudsman was joined by Perit Alan Saliba, Commissioner for Environment and Planning, Dr Monica Borg Galea, Head of Investigations and Mr Jurgen Cassar, Head of Communications and Research.