We do not understand the government’s decision to bring back from suspension public service employees charged with serious crimes. There is no doubt that until convicted, everyone is presumed innocent. But there is also no doubt that the public service must be composed of exemplary people.

It is unfair for other public service employees to have to work with people whom the police and the prosecutor believe have committed serious crimes.

This is why we join those who protested that a person who is accused of sexual harassment at work has been brought back to work. This decision, apparently motivated by the fact that the person concerned has political connections, is in itself a threat to women at the workplace, implicitly warned that harassers today will return to the workplace tomorrow.

We refer to remarks by Parliamentary Secretary Rebecca Buttigieg who said that “as Minister responsible for equality” she will not employ the individual concerned in her office. The government cannot have an equality policy that only applies to the equality ministry. Equality policy (and the protection of all values allegedly abused by persons accused of serious crimes) should work across the entire public service.

The Government has not yet explained why it has decided to bring back to work persons whom the police have accused of serious crimes. We will be positive and assume that the reason for their return to work is not that an election is around the corner.

The only possible excuse the government may have is that suspended persons are innocent until proven otherwise. Criminal proceedings currently last too long, so it is not right for someone presumed innocent to wait for years while being suspended from work. But the solution is not removing suspensions. The solution is to make the necessary changes to the judicial system to reduce the duration of criminal proceedings.

The Government seems to have given up on reforming justice, and thus the only solution it has found is to readmit persons charged with serious crimes back to work. Thus workers and public service customers now have to face these people every day.