NGOs call for investigation of EPRT Chairperson’s conflict of interest

 

A group of NGOs is requesting a full-scale investigation into the practices that have led to a PA employee being appointed head of the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal. On Sunday 30th August, The Sunday Times has revealed how Martin Saliba, former chairperson of the EPRT, was still listed as an employee of the Planning Authority, leading to a blatant and unprecedented conflict of interest.

A spokesperson for the NGOs said that while Mr Saliba decided upon many appeals including those of the ITS-DB project, Tumas Group’s Quad Towers of Imrieħel, and the Central Link Project, “not once did he disclose the fact that he was an employee of the Planning Authority. This means that he could have never met the requirements needed to qualify as an impartial or independent adjudicator in line with the demands of his role, since he was bound to his employer.”

As a consequence, the appellants who appeared before Saliba may have never been given a fair hearing, the NGOs said. This also means that residents and NGOs who have been crowdfunding various appeals across the island may have been investing their human, financial and professional resources in a system that is rigged against them.

In view of this, the NGOs are demanding a full-scale inquiry as to how this was allowed to happen, together with an audit of all the appeals Martin Saliba has decided upon, full disclosure of all his agreements with the Planning Authority and answers as to whether the current EPRT Chairman is also an employee of the PA.

Saliba’s appointment as head of the EPRT is a gross miscarriage of justice in planning, which raises the spectre that the PA may have been judging appeals against itself and denying citizens recourse to an impartial hearing. The NGOs insist they will not allow this latest scandal to be swept under the carpet.

  1. Attard Residents Environmental Network
  2. Azzjoni: Tuna Artna Lura
  3. Bicycle Advocacy Group
  4. BirdLife Malta
  5. Din l-Art Ħelwa
  6. Extinction Rebellion Malta
  7. Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar
  8. Friends of the Earth (Malta)
  9. MaYA Foundation
  10. Moviment Graffitti
  11. Nature Trust Malta
  12. Ramblers’ Association of Malta
  13. The Archaeological Society Malta

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L-NGOs jitolbu investigazzjoni fil-kunflitt ta’ interess taċ-Chairperson tal-EPRT
Martin Saliba ma kienx la imparzjali u lanqas indipendenti

Grupp ta’ NGOs qed jitolbu biex issir investigazzjoni sħiħa dwar il-prattiki li wasslu sabiex impjegat tal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar jiġi maħtur bħala l-kap tat-Tribunal tal-Appelli għall-Ambjent u l-Ippjanar (l-EPRT). Nhar il-Ħadd, 30 ta’ Awwissu, is-Sunday Times żvelat kif Martin Saliba, li fil-passat kien jokkupa l-kariga ta’ chairperson tal-EPRT, kien għadu elenkat bħala impjegat mal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar. Dan iwassal għal kunflitt ta’ interess sfaċċat u bla preċedent.

Kelliem għall-NGOs qal li waqt li s-Sur Saliba kien qed jaqta’ s-sentenzi dwar mijiet ta’ appelli, inkluż dawk tal-proġett tal-ITS-DB, il-Quad Towers tat-Tumas Grupp fl-Imrieħel, u l-Proġett tas-Central Link, “dan qatt ma żvela l-fatt li huwa kien impjegat mal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar. Il-PA hija parti interessata għall-istess appelli li Saliba kien qed jgħarbel u jiddeċiedi dwarhom minn lenti ta’ ġudikant. Dan ifisser li qatt ma seta’ jkun ġudikant imparzjali jew indipendenti kif kien jitlob ir-rwol tiegħu, peress li kellu obbligu lejn min kien jimpjegah.”

Hemm possibbiltá li l-appellanti kollha li dehru quddiem Saliba nkisrilhom id-dritt li jkollhom smigħ ġust u xieraq, tennew l-NGOs. Dan ifisser ukoll li r-residenti u l-NGOs madwar il-pajjiż kollu li ġabru l-fondi mill-pubbliku għal diversi appelli setgħu kienu qed jinvestu r-riżorsi umani, finanzjarji u professjonali f’sistema li hija evidentament maħsuba kontrihom.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu, l-NGOs qed jitolbu biex issir inkjesta komprensiva dwar kif xi ħaġa bħal din tħalliet isseħħ, kif ukoll isir awditjar tal-appelli kollha li Martin Saliba kien iddeċieda dwarhom, u jiġu żvelati b’mod komplut l-ftehimiet kollha tiegħu mal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar. L-NGOs staqsew ukoll jekk iċ-Chairman tal-EPRT attwali huwiex ukoll impjegat tal-PA.

Il-ħatra ta’ Saliba bħala kap tal-EPRT tirrappreżenta nuqqas serju fit-twettiq ta-ġustizzja fejn jidħol l-ippjanar. Il-PA issa ħatret lilha nnifisha bħala ġudikant f’appelli indirizzati kontra tagħha u ċ-ċittadini m’għandhom l-ebda rikors għal smigħ imparzjali. L-NGOs jisħqu li mhux se jippermettu li dan l-iskandlu l-ġdid jitħalla jintesa bħallikieku qatt ma kien xejn.

  1. Attard Residents Environmental Network
  2. Azzjoni: Tuna Artna Lura
  3. Bicycle Advocacy Group
  4. BirdLife Malta
  5. Din l-Art Ħelwa
  6. Extinction Rebellion Malta
  7. Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar
  8. Friends of the Earth (Malta)
  9. MaYA Foundation
  10. Moviment Graffitti
  11. Nature Trust Malta
  12. Ramblers’ Association of Malta
  13. The Archaeological Society Malta