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  • Writer's pictureAndré Delicata

When the Rule of Law rules no more

The clearest way to show what the rule of law means to us in everyday life is to recall what has happened when there is no rule of law. Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Rule of Law exists to keep hold power to account.

In Margaret Thatcher’s words, “Being democratic is not enough, a majority cannot turn what is wrong into right. In order to be considered truly free, countries must also have a deep love of liberty and an abiding respect for the rule of law.”

In Malta, the Rule of Law rules no more. The government as well as certain privileged actors are not held accountable to the law, by the law. The law is not applied with the same yardstick to all. The justice system is broken, inefficient, ineffective, untimely.

It does not take a genius to work out why we have found ourselves in the situation we now find ourselves.

The Rule of Law was carefully, deliberately and systematically dismantled, so that the corrupt, the criminal can operate brazenly and unfettered, with impunity. It has been said that it is the rule of law alone which hinders the rulers from turning themselves into the worst gangsters. Which is exactly what has happened in Malta.

It is only in strong vibrant democracies that the Rule of Law can withstand power tinkering with it, and hold true in the midst of crisis.

Despite all this, Malta is at a tipping point. The last bastions of democracy – civil society and the independent media, are all that have held us in good stead in the last ten years.

What happens within the next few weeks will seal Malta’s fate. It will either continue sliding downwards, becoming a totally illiberal democracy, or else it will start the long road back to a liberal democracy.

Regaining the Rule of Law is far harder than losing it. Its loss is often imperceptible, until all vestiges of democracy and justice go out not with a bang but with a whimper.

We stand to lose a lot. We stand to gain a lot.

The choice is ours alone.

It’s time to show up. It’s time to stand up and be counted. It’s time to make our voices heard.

There is no more room for indifference, silence.

Time is running out.

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