I applaud Labour’s announcement not to increase the salary of the members of the judiciary due to the current economic climate.
I never expected Dr. Reuben Balzan being the President of the Chamber of Advocates to agree with Labour’s stance both on a political and an economical level.
According to Dr. Balzan: "This is a simplistic and dangerous argument which makes the work of a judge looks like some ordinary job.”
Actually, I think that Dr. Balzan is over-complicating the issue just like all lawyers like complicate issues to come out on top and to obfuscate the real argument equating salary increases with the current economic climate.
Considering that even Gonzi had to finally backed down on the 500 Euro increase he was going to regale himself and his cabinet, it is quite arrogant that Dr. Balzan expects that the judiciary should be given a hefty pay-rise.
Dr. Balzan also said that: "The appointment of a judge is not an ordinary job and that is why the Constitution includes provisions to prevent interference in the work of the judiciary, including political interference," thinking that people today are still naïve simpletons. Knowing that most of the judges and magistrates chosen during the last 25 years have been die-hard Nationalists; does he expect us to believe there is no political interference in the judiciary?
You don’t need to interfere directly in the judiciary. Just chose a majority of Nationalist judges and magistrates and let a token 10% be Labourites and presto, you have a judiciary that favours the government. This way, there is a perception of a government that does not interfere directly with the judiciary when it’s actually full of Nationalists!
The government has been clamouring throughout its entire administration that pay rises should be linked with competiveness and efficiency. Although the judiciary work cannot be economically competitive, shouldn’t it be efficient?
Dr Balzan: “insisted that the members of the judiciary should be adequately compensated for their work because the judiciary was one of the pillars of a democratic society.”
Shouldn’t everybody be adequately compensated? And if both parties are agreeing that the minimum wage will not be increased, how can the judiciary and the legislative (Gonzi and his cabinet) expect to be compensated with massive pay-rises?
Is such a move distinctive of a democratic society where one stratum that already has relatively good wages is given massive increases, while the majority of the population that has low wages are given peanuts?
And what is this talk about the judiciary being one of the pillars of a democratic society? Talk is cheap!
Is Dr. Balzan describing reality?
Ask anyone who experiences the judiciary how democratic it is? Look at the anomalous sentences given that have absolutely no bearing on the severity of the offences?
Why doesn’t Dr. Balzan talk about the way lawyers leave their clients waiting and hearings are repeatedly postponed for years, while the judiciary is toothless to discipline them for wasting precious time and making the clients’ lives a misery?
What about the steep unregulated fees they ask for?
Being independent does not mean being unaccountable?
Like authorities, the Judiciary is a pillar of society that is absolutely unaccountable and this must be dealt with. That’s why improving the conditions of the judiciary should be tied to a much greater accountability.
Being autonomous and independent does not mean doing whatever you want.
Maybe Dr. Balzan is implying that the judiciary is not accountable because is not paid enough?
If yes, this is not a very irresponsible position to take. If the Judiciary wants to win the respect it thinks it deserves, it should start treating people with dignity and should work to provide tools to ensure ethical and moral standards. One look at the crowded corridors of the Maltese courts and the way judges and lawyers treat people quickly reveals that these standards are not practiced.
Dr. Balzan speech during the start of the Forensic year showed that common citizen does not seem to have a place in the judiciary’s scheme of things, notwithstanding that they exist because of the people.
I’m sorry to say that such an attitude does not auger well for any improvement in the high-handed attitude of a majority of the judiciary who seem to have forgotten the fact that just like all employees, they exist to serve the people.
The Labour Party was totally correct in refusing to vote in favour of pay increases for the judiciary. Once elected, it should make sure that the required judicial reforms are successfully implemented and that the people involved are totally accountable so that justice is not only seen to be done but is finally actually done to the satisfaction of so many people who have been waiting for years and years for a bit of justice!