Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici has announced that the separation of the dual roles of the Attorney General will take place as of the 18th of December 2019. A commencement notice in relation to the State Advocate Act has been endorsed and sent for publication in the Government Gazette.
This follows on the announcement of the appointment of Dr Victoria Buttigieg as the first State Advocate last week.
Minister Owen Bonnici said that Dr Buttigieg’s appointment comes after a public call and following a unanimous advice of an Appointment Commission. This is a first and this procedure was utilised following the recommendations of the Venice Commission which the government itself sought in the first place. He reiterated that through such processes, this government is clearly showing commitment to implement further reforms for the benefit of our society and towards the strengthening of the rule of law.
The State Advocate will be recognised by the Constitution and its holder has the same obligations and enjoy the same protection as enjoyed by the Attorney General and the members of the Judiciary. The State Advocate is to be the Chief Legal Advisor to the government in relation to the law ad legal opinions and will be explicitly obliged to act in the public interest and safeguard the legality of state actions.
The State Advocate will carry out their functions through an independent agency established through the same act. This situation has been present in Maltese legislature as from 1936, following the consolidation of the post of Public Prosecutor and Treasury Lawyer into the role of the Attorney General. This consolidation was kept in the Maltese constitution, even after our country’s independence, until the introduction of this Act.