Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

News and Information from Gibraltar on Equality, Human, Gay and Social Rights

Thursday, September 14, 2006

We reiterate our call for the Courts to decide Ratali issue

Equality Rights Group GGR has today responded to a Government press release yesterday in which it is alleged that the basis for the demonstration regarding the treatment of the President of the MCA is “false” by clarifying its own position.

Felix Alvarez, Chairman, stated that he had “written directly to the Chief Minister asking for public clarification of the reasons for the decisions which had been made concerning Mr Ratali. A couple of days later, I welcomed the public clarification which ensued. Nonetheless, Mr Caruana omitted to say whether there were any public interest issues in this case which might shed light on the decision, despite my explicit request. He also omitted to explain why it is that a firm contract of employment had to that date still not been approved by the ETB despite, allegedly, many months in the offing. In the circumstances, the Chief Minister cannot be surprised to find that there continue to be motives for suspicion surrounding this situation. Democratic Governments do not respond in this manner."

“Additionally,” Mr Alvarez added, “the sudden decision to withdraw an existing visa-waiver for this gentleman fuels further suspicion that the management of the decision-making processes by public authorities, which under the rule of law have an obligation to act in a transparent and explained manner, has been calculated to thwart the possibility of this gentleman taking the matter before a court of law to decide whether Government has acted justly or not. There is no doubt at all in GGR’s mind that, technically, Government has acted within the letter of the law. But that does not necessarily satisfy the requirements of democracy when proper procedures or natural justice have not been followed. GGR's presence at the demonstration is not to shout “discrimination” and “victimisation” because we believe in establishing facts first and foremost before arriving at conclusions: it is to protest the manner in which this has been done and the way in which an individual is being prevented from having his case heard by a Judge when the actions of the Executive give rise to issues of propriety. We therefore protest at the discredit Government’s actions and style visit upon this community.”

“As a rights organisation, our concern is that Government should act fairly, provide proper reasons to an individual affected by its decisions and afford him the right to have his case heard impartially. None of this has happened and all of them should have - especially when just two years ago Mr Caruana told us that he believed “in a culture of human rights”. The deprecating manner in which Government refers to organisations in this community only underline a profound disrespect for different views in this society and a style of Government inconsistent with decent democratic values. Mr Caruana should honour Gibraltar by allowing Mr Ratali the opportunity to enter to appear before a Judge and have impartiality and not politicking decide.”