The Parliamentary Ombudsman welcomes the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Malta

Judge Emeritus Joseph Zammit McKeon, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, met with H.E. Tanja I. Beyer, the Federal Republic of Germany Ambassador to Malta. This meeting highlighted the longstanding relationship between the two countries and offered an opportunity for fruitful exchange on various administrative and human rights issues.

In discussing the evolution of the Ombudsman’s Office, Judge Zammit McKeon reflected on key developments since its inception. Notably, he mentioned the appointment of specialised Commissioners in 2012 and the significant step of elevating the institution to a Constitutional office.  He expressed that after nearly three decades, it is an opportune time for the institution to explore avenues for further improvement.

One of the pivotal proposals by the Ombudsman is to seek recognition of the Office as a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI). He highlighted that the existing Ombudsman Act, having stood the test of time, provides a robust foundation for operating as an NHRI. This Act aligns with the Paris Principles regarding independence, mandate, and authority.

The operational setup of the office, including its infrastructure, experienced staff, and procedures for handling complaints, including those concerning human rights breaches, is well-suited for future action as an NHRI, effectively utilising existing resources without significant restructuring.

Regarding reports tabled in Parliament, the Ombudsman advocates for Final Opinions referred to the House of Representatives to be discussed by a dedicated Committee of the House. The current Speaker of the House, the Hon. Anglu Farrugia, has shown support for this approach, similar to how the Public Accounts Committee reviews reports of the Auditor General. A Standing Committee on Public Administration could deliberate on the reports submitted by the Ombudsman, and the Annual Governance Action reports compiled by the Office of the Principal Permanent Secretary. The Ombudsman is actively engaging with both sides of the House to strengthen the relationship between his office and the House of Representatives.

The Ombudsman also discussed his role in the international arena, particularly his new positions on the Board of Directors of the International Ombudsman Institute and both the Worldwide and European Regional Boards.

From her side, Ambassador Beyer spoke about the structure of Ombudsman institutions in Germany, which tend to focus more on regional levels and specialised ombudspersons. She noted the similarity to Germany’s Parliamentary Petition Committee in complaint investigation and expressed keen interest in the initiatives and work of the Office of the Ombudsman in Malta.

In conclusion, the Ombudsman emphasised the office’s openness to German nationals residing in or visiting Malta, reinforcing its commitment to serving all individuals within its jurisdiction.

The Ombudsman was joined by Mr. Paul Borg, Director General, and Mr. Jurgen Cassar, Head of Communications and Research. Mr. Olaf Rieck, Head of Economic Affairs, accompanied Ambassador Beyer.

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