Malta is a constitutional republic and parliamentary democracy. The president is the head of state, appointed by a resolution of the unicameral House of Representatives (parliament) for a term of five years. In 2019 parliament appointed George Vella president for a five-year term. The president names as prime minister the leader of the party that wins a majority of seats in parliamentary elections. Early parliamentary elections held in 2017, in which the Labor Party maintained its majority, were considered free and fair.
The Malta Police Force maintains internal security. The Armed Forces of Malta are responsible for external security but also have some domestic security responsibilities. Both report to the Ministry of Home Affairs, National Security, and Law Enforcement. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over police, the intelligence services, and the armed forces. There were no reports members of the security forces committed abuses during the year.
Significant human rights issues included credible reports of detention of irregular migrants under inhuman and degrading conditions; serious government corruption; and violence or threats of violence against migrants from Africa.
The government took steps to identify, investigate, prosecute, and punish officials who committed abuses and corrupt acts, whether in security services or elsewhere in the government, and had mechanisms in place to identify and punish officials who may commit human rights abuses.