Speech by Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici given at the UNCAC Review
I am very pleased to welcome the distinguished delegation from the United Nations and the distinguished delegations from Switzerland and South Africa.
I look forward to the next two and a half days in which Malta will provide the necessary information to the reviewers in order to show Malta’s ongoing commitment to implement the provisions of the United Convention Against Corruption.
Corruption is one of the worst enemies of democracy, economy and sustainable development as it jeopardises the safety of society, weakens democracy, increases inequalities, slows down economic development and erodes the rule of law.
Malta joined the global fight against corruption in 2008 when it ratified the UN Convention against Corruption. Malta has been reviewed by Spain and Cambodia on its implementation of Chapter III – Criminalization and Law Enforcement and Chapter IV on International Co-operation.
Malta was also selected along with the Czech Republic to undertake the peer-reive of Belgium in the second cycle on the implementation of Chapter II – preventive measures and Chapter V – asset recovery.
Malta appreciates the paramount role that the UNCAC plays in combating corruption and it also recognises the fact that if Malta is to win the fight against corruption, we ought to contribute to and learn from best practices and experiences of other countries.
It is a known fact that corruption knows no borders.
On the contrary, proceeds of corrupt practices have a high tendency of crossing borders in the same manner as offenders tend to establish links with a number of countries.
History shows that corruption can, at its worst, feed arbitrary social order and destroy citizens’ opportunities to improve their standard of living and social status.
Malta supports a multilateral and rules based international convention. Anti-corruption work is an integral part of the multilateral international cooperation supporting the global advances in the areas of democracy, freedom and economic growth.
International cooperation plays a key role in the fight against corruption.
Way back in 2008, Malta adopted a National Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy, aiming to set up a normative, institutional and operational framework, reflecting local requirements and international obligations.
The main thrust of the strategy is prevention, deterrence, detection, investigation and prosecution of fraud and corruption, whilst encouraging and facilitating transparency and accountability.
A number of bodies are also engaged in the fight against corruption mainly the Permanent Commission Against Corruption, National Audit Office, Ombdusman, Financial Investigation Unit, the Police and the Internal Audit and Investigation Directorate.
The fight against corruption is institutionalised in a number of legal enactments including the provisions of the Constitution, the provisions of the Criminal Code, the Public Administration Act, the Protection of the Whistleblower Act, the Freedom of Information Act and the Prevention of Corruption in Sports Act amongst others.
Code of Ethics were enacted with respect to persons employed in the public service and in public entities, for the judiciary and for public prosecutors.
The public procurement legislation was revisited and a definition of what constitutes ‘conflict of interest’ was included.
The Asset Recovery Bureau was set up and resources were provided to this Bureau to enable it to fulfil its functions. The Legal Notice relative to this Bureau was brought into force.
The Financing of Political Party Act was also enacted which provides for transparency of funding of political parties and also provides for the necessary accountability of political parties.
Public consultation prior to the enactment of legislation is also ensured in order for the general public to participate in the legislative process.
Another milestone was reached with the enactment of the Standards in Public Life Act which provides for the appointment of a Commissioner for Standards in Public Life and a Standing Committee with powers to investigate breaches of statutory or ethical duties of categories of persons in public life.
Amendments to the Public Administration Act have been drafted and a Bill has been presented to Parliament in order to include a revolving door clause and to provide for a list of what constitutes ‘vulnerable positions’.
An active civil society, the private sector, the academia and free media also play a crucial role in the fight against corruption.
In closing, Malta has benefitted greatly from the recommendations issued during the first country review cycle of the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption and I, therefore wish you all a fruitful and wealthy exchange during this review to ensure Malta’s success in the implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption.