Attached please find a complaint filed with the Information and Data Protection Commissioner under Malta’s Freedom of Information Act by Repubblika’s President-Elect Dr Robert Aquilina, in his personal capacity, to challenge the refusal of access to documents requests submitted to the Malta Police Force and to the Ministry of Finance.

The two access to documents requests concerned documents containing the lists of nominees, including Mr Silvio Valletta, provided by the Police Commissioner to the Finance Minister from the 1st January 2013 onwards for the appointment of persons to the Board of Governors of Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.

Both requests were denied.

The complaint is based on the following points:

  1. There was a failure to properly recognise that the right of access to information is a fundamental human right, one that Malta is obliged to uphold;
  2. The exception under Article 36 (1) to ensure non-disclosure of internal working documents should not apply to this case;
  3. Harm was not sufficiently demonstrated to allow the application of the exception under Article 38 (c) on documents concerning certain operations of public authorities;
  4. There is a clear and strong overriding public interest for the disclosure of the documents requested;
  5. A fair balance was not found between the right of access to documents and the right to personal data protection; and
  6. Partial access was not considered, and this, at least, should be granted.

In his complaint, Dr Aquilina emphasized that it is definitely in the public interest that he is given the opportunity to verify whether the Finance Minister validly appointed the members of the FIAU’s Board of Governors, especially in view of the following reasons:

  1. It is public knowledge that Mr Silvio Valletta had a very close personal relationship and allegedly colluded with the alleged mastermind of the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia;
  2. Mr Silvio Valletta was appointed to the FIAU’s Board of Governors in February 2014 and subsequently re-appointed to the said board in January 2017, notwithstanding the fact that he was married to Parliamentary Secretary (later on Government Minister) Justine Caruana;
  3. It is public knowledge that during the years in which Mr Valletta sat on the FIAU’s Board of Governors, employees of the FIAU had sought to investigate suspicions of money laundering allegedly committed by high ranking members and officials of the Maltese Government, of which Mr Valletta’s spouse was a minister; and
  4. During the years in which Mr Valletta sat on the FIAU’s Board of Governors the employment of two high-ranking officials of the FIAU was terminated a few days following the 2017 general elections and just after the Finance Minister had publicly asked whether certain reports of the FIAU had been written with the scope of being leaked. This happened just four months before Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated.

Dr Aquilina submitted the said complaint in his personal capacity because similar requests he had submitted on behalf of Repubblika were denied on the basis that in terms of the Freedom of Information Act (Chapter 496 of the Laws of Malta) only physical persons are eligible to submit freedom of information requests.

In his complaint Dr Aquilina is being assisted by Access Info Europe, a human rights organisation established in Madrid in 2006 and dedicated to promoting and protecting the right of access to information.