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MALTATODAY 29 January 2023

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2 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 29 JANUARY 2023 NEWS Thank you... for having bought this newspaper The good news is that we're not raising the price of our newspaper We know times are still hard, but we have pledged to keep giving our readers quality news they deserve, without making you pay more for it. So thank you, for making it your MaltaToday Support your favourite newspaper with a special offer on online PDF subscriptions. Visit or scan the QR code Subscriptions can be done online on Same-day delivery at €1 for orders up to 5 newspapers per address. Subscribe from €1.15 a week Same-day print delivery from Miller Distributors mt LUKE VELLA MALTA'S pro-life lobbies filed a complaint with the Broadcasting Authority, claiming the public broadcaster PBS had censored a 'strong' comment against abor- tion made by the President of the Republic George Vella during a Holocaust commemoration. The coalition Inti Tista' Ssal- vani – which groups Life Net- work Foundation, Doctors For Life, and I See Life – claimed the 26 January news bulletin did not carry a comment from Vella in which he alluded to the "millions of unborn babies being killed be- fore they even have the possibil- ity to see the light of day" during his Holocaust speech. The speech was met with crit- icism from pro-choice cam- paigners who said the allusion to abortion in what was a com- memoration of the genocide of 6 million Jews, homosexual, Romany, and other victims of Nazi-fascism, was inappropriate. "This strong statement from the President deserved attention and the fact that PBS decided not to report this, particularly in the present circumstances is an attempt to censor the Presi- dent," the pro-life coalition said. "This is not the first case where the PBS newsroom has chosen to be selective and censor its re- porting. This was also done in the case of Ms. Prudente where the PBS newsroom completely censored what the doctors said." The coalition said this was in violation of the provision of the Constitution of Malta, as well as the provisions in the Broad- casting law, which extend this obligation directly to the public broadcaster and which impose on it the obligation to ensure that the services of its news are objective and comprehensive. "This cannot be done if the public broadcaster, instead of serving as an instrument to pro- vide all the information to which the people have a right, is an in- strument of censorship." It said that for these reasons, it is asking for the comments of the President to be reported without censorship. Pro-life lobbies claim 'censorship' of President's speech in PBS news ADPD – the Green Party said that the removal of the two- thirds Parliamentary approval requirement for the nomination of the Standards Commissioner was castrating and leading to dysfunctional institutions. ADPD spokesperson Brian Decelis said that the proposed amendments to the Standards in Public Life Act would make it easier for the government to avoid being faced with 'uncom- fortable' reports published by the Standards' office. He added that if Commission- er was solely appointed by the government, they would feel at ease to choose not to investi- gate breaches of such standards or not to investigate in detail. Decelis remarked that the Ombudsman had recently com- plained that 35 reports present- ed for Parliament's attention between 2020 and last year have been completely ignored by Parliament. "These reports are presented to Parliament af- ter being previously referred to the Office of the Prime Minis- ter which either refused to take the necessary action and also after being ignored by the Civil Service or the entity involved." He said that everyone should be concerned by the comments made by the Ombudsman when he said that the citizens felt more aggrieved by the MP's inactions. "Instead of seeking to strengthen the institutions, the Government is proposing a mechanism that will enable it to appoint whoever it deems fit as Commissioner for Standards in Public Life without seeking a wide consensus. This is a slap in the face of all institutions," Decelis concluded. ADPD Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said that only per- sons within the Government's circles were nominated for these institutions. "Many a time only persons within their own circles are proposed at the exclusion of others who may be able to give their beneficial contribution to the country. Indeed civil soci- ety should also have a role in such appointments," Cacopar- do said. He pointed out that the gov- ernment also delayed the ap- pointment of the Ombudsman for more than a year to allow it to be able to barter it with that of the Commissioner of Stand- ards in Public Life. Cacopardo stated that the lat- ter role became vacant "thanks to the Prime Minister's Machi- avellian manoeuvres". He said that whenever con- sensus was reached on such ap- pointments, their reports and recommendations were either ignored or quietly forgotten about. Cacopardo remarked that it was only thanks to public opinion that resignations such as that of the Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana and Parlia- mentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar, were handed in. He also mentioned that a sim- ilar situation was ongoing at the moment, with Home Af- fairs Minister Byron Camilleri not being sacked for not tak- ing immediate action against former prison director Robert Brincau. Cacopardo said that on paper the proposed amendments were presented as an anti-deadlock mechanism when the required two-thirds of Parliamentary ap- proval is not met. "However, the proposals are seeking to remove the prima- ry objective of the current law, that of seeking the widest con- sensus possible for the appoint- ment of the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life by Par- liament." "It is not sufficient that the nominee is a person of integri- ty. The fact that they may not be acceptable to the Opposi- tion may be a sufficient enough reason once there are valid rea- sons. This also puts the onus on the Opposition to be accounta- ble and to act in a responsible manner too." 'Institutions castrated by removal of two-thirds approval'

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