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Malta Human Rights - History

Malta Human Rights - History

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2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

March 11, 2010

Malta is a constitutional republic and parliamentary democracy with a population of approximately 400,000. The president is the head of state and is appointed by the unicameral parliament (House of Representatives). The president appoints as prime minister the leader of the party that gains a majority of seats in parliamentary elections. General elections held in March 2008 were free and fair. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces.

There were reports that the government detained irregular migrants under harsh conditions; there were some restrictions on free speech. Societal problems included child abuse, trafficking in persons, and substandard work conditions for irregular migrants.


Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The constitution and law prohibit such practices; however, authorities detained irregular immigrants under poor conditions for up to 18 months during review for protected status.

In August 2008 authorities charged four prison wardens with assaulting and seriously injuring a prisoner following his attempt to escape from a government correctional facility. The case was ongoing at year's end.

During the year the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) continued to provide training for authorities in handling detainees.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Conditions in most prisons and detention centers for domestic detainees generally met international standards; however, there continued to be reports of poor conditions in government‑run detention centers for irregular migrants.

The government permitted monitoring visits by independent human rights observers, and such visits occurred during the year.

As of December the prison population of 556 inmates consisted of 489 men, 32 women, and 35 juveniles (30 boys and five girls). Male and female prisoners were held separately.

Several European and international organizations, including the Council of Europe's (COE's) Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), the UNHCR, and the EU, criticized conditions in the country's detention centers for irregular migrants. Problems included overcrowded and unsanitary prison space, guards who were insensitive to the need for separating men and women in confined spaces, the absence of meaningful vocational or recreational activity within the centers, and lack of access to legal counsel.

There were no reports that the government took any specific action during the year in response to the CPT's criticism (in its 2007 report) that authorities detained some unsuccessful asylum seekers for up to 40 days in airport facilities appropriate only for 20‑hour detention. However, during the year the problem was resolved as a result of a decline in the number of asylum seekers and faster processing of asylum applications by an enlarged staff in the Refugee Commissioner's Office.

The government permitted occasional visits to its detention centers by independent human rights observers, including foreign diplomats. In January a mission of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded a visit to the country undertaken at the government's request. Authorities granted the mission access to the Safi and Lyster Barracks, the Corradino Correctional Facility, the closed wards at Mount Carmel Hospital, and to detention facilities at the Police General Headquarters, the Valletta Police Station, and the Armed Forces of Malta. While noting a number of positive features of the institutions and laws in place to prevent arbitrary detention, the delegation observed that the detention regime imposed on irregular migrants arriving by sea was not in line with international human rights law. It noted that such detainees remained for long periods in substandard conditions which, in the case of the Safi and Lyster Barracks, it described as adversely affecting the health, including the mental health, of some of the detainees. It expressed particular concern over the detention of migrants deemed vulnerable, e.g., minors, pregnant women, and families with children.

In March Doctors without Borders (MSF) suspended activities at three detention centers for migrants on the grounds that it could not "offer adequate medical care" in what it referred to as "appalling" living conditions. In July the organization resumed its activities at the Ta'Kandja "closed center" after discussions with authorities. Following MSF's departure, authorities removed tent housing from the camps mentioned in its report and replaced them with trailer-type living facilities. They rehabilitated the facilities at Lyster Barracks to include upgraded toilet and kitchen facilities. The government was also receptive to donations of clothing and other materials, and to provision of educational assistance by outside groups, including nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and a foreign embassy.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.

Role of the Police and Security Apparatus

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the police force, the security service, and the armed forces, and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. There were no reported problems related to impunity within the police force or security service.

Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention

With the exception of irregular migrants, whom authorities almost always detained for six to 18 months pending adjudication of any asylum requests, an arrest warrant issued by a magistrate is generally necessary to detain a person for questioning and may be issued on the basis of reasonable suspicion. According to the constitution, police must either file charges or release a suspect within 48 hours; in all cases authorities must inform detainees of the grounds for their arrest. Police generally respected these requirements in practice. During the 48‑hour detention period, which generally included initial interrogation by police, arrested persons have neither the right to legal counsel nor to meetings with family members. Once authorities file charges, they give pretrial detainees access to counsel and family. Authorities adjudicated applications for bail on a case-by-case basis but normally granted them.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence in practice.

Trial Procedures

The constitution provides for the right to a fair and public jury trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence. Trials are public and juries are used. Defendants have the right to counsel of their choice or, if they cannot afford counsel, to court‑appointed counsel at public expense. Defendants and their lawyers have access to government‑held evidence relevant to their cases. Defendants may confront witnesses and present evidence; defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and have the right to appeal. All citizens enjoy these rights.

Lengthy delays in both criminal and civil trials were frequently reported. During 2008 the European Court of Human Rights issued judgments that found one violation by the country of the right to a fair trial and one violation involving length of proceedings.

Political Prisoners and Detainees

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies

The constitution provides for an independent and impartial court in civil matters, including for the determination of civil rights or obligations, and for access to a court to bring lawsuits seeking damages for, or cessation of, a human rights violation. Persons who have exhausted their right to appeal in the national court system could apply to bring an alleged breach of human rights covered by the European Convention on Human Rights before the European Court of Human Rights. Civil and judicial procedures for the exercise of this right exist, and citizens regularly made use of them.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution prohibits such actions, and the government generally respected this prohibition in practice.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The constitution and law generally provide for freedom of speech and of the press; however, there are restrictions on "vilification" of, or "giving offense" to, the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion, the country's official church. Also illegal, but carrying a lesser punishment, is vilification of, or giving offense to, any "cult tolerated by law." It is an offense to publicly utter any obscene or indecent words or make obscene acts or gestures, or in any other way offend public "morality, propriety, or decency. According to the Times of Malta, the home affairs minister told parliament in October that in the first three months of the year, authorities initiated criminal proceedings against 162 persons for blaspheming in public; they began similar proceedings against 621 persons during 2008.

The independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views without restriction. International media operated freely, and there was no indication of reprisals against individuals for either public or private criticism of the government.

Internet Freedom

There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitored e‑mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups could engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e‑mail. Internet use was widespread; an estimated 59 percent of households and 90 percent of schools (state, church, and private) had Internet access. Numerous Internet cafes and many blogs operated freely throughout the islands. According to International Telecommunication Union statistics for 2008, approximately 49 percent of the country's inhabitants used the Internet; however, a November Eurostat study showed that 64 percent of households had Internet access (up from 53 percent in 2006).

Academic Freedom and Cultural Events

There were no government restrictions on academic freedom.

The law restricts cultural activities that publicly vilify the Catholic Church. In March authorities arrested, tried, and gave a suspended one‑month prison sentence to a man convicted of giving offense to the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion by dressing up as Jesus Christ during February carnival festivities in the village of Nadur.

In February the Board of Film and Stage Classification prohibited production of the Anthony Neilson play, Stitching, on the basis that it was blasphemous and obscene. The production company, Unifaun Theatre Company, instituted legal proceedings against the prohibition; at year's end the case was before the courts.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The constitution provides for freedom of assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights in practice.

c. Freedom of Religion

The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respected this right in practice. The constitution establishes Roman Catholicism as the state religion; however, numerous non‑Catholic religious groups, including an Islamic community, various Protestant and evangelical denominations, and a small Jewish community, practiced their faiths freely. Religious instruction in Catholicism is included as part of compulsory primary education in all state schools; however, both the constitution and law establish the right not to receive this instruction if the student, parent, or guardian objects.

Societal Abuses and Discrimination

There were no reports of anti‑Semitic acts during the year. The Jewish community numbered approximately 120 persons.

There was some hostile speech toward Muslims in blogs, letters to the editor, and comments associated with Internet-based articles on migration problems; the focus was primarily on the irregular immigrant status of many Muslims rather than on their religion. There were no reports that the government instituted any steps to prevent or punish such hostile speech under this or other provisions of law.

For a more detailed discussion, see the 2009 International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/.

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The constitution provides for freedom of movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights in practice. The government generally cooperated with the UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern. However, irregular migrants were subject to mandatory incarceration while their immigration status was under review.

The constitution prohibits forced exile, and the government did not employ it.

Protection of Refugees

The country is a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol. Its laws provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees.

In practice the government provided some protection against the expulsion or return of refugees to countries where their lives or freedom would potentially be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Authorities detained irregular migrants for up to 18 months after they arrived in the country, in most cases in closed detention centers. Such migrants could file asylum claims within two months of their detention and remained in detention while their cases were processed. Detainees also included persons who did not apply for asylum and those whose asylum applications and appeals were rejected or were under review. Individuals awaiting decisions on their cases occasionally protested their detention or attempted to escape from detention centers.

Shortly after their initial detention, authorities usually moved "vulnerable individuals" such as children, pregnant women, elderly persons, and parents with infants to "open centers," where they were free to come and go. The armed forces are responsible for the management of the closed detention centers and report directly to the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs, while the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS), a part of the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs, has responsibility for the welfare and accommodation of persons transferred from detention centers to open centers.

Authorities released all detainees whose cases were not resolved within 18 months, whether or not police had arranged to repatriate them. They were permitted to remain in the country, allowed to stay in "open centers," and given work permits. EU law prohibited them from travelling to other EU countries, and they were not eligible to bring family members to the EU. They were eligible for voluntary repatriation programs, but most did not choose to participate.

For some applicants not legally entitled to asylum, the government provides "subsidiary protection," and provided it to 1,030 persons from January through August. Beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, introduced in 2008 with the implementation into domestic law of an EU Council directive, were entitled to remain in the country; move freely; be granted personal identification documents, including a one-year renewable residence permit; and obtain travel documents, especially in emergency situations. They could be employed, subject to labor market considerations; receive core social welfare benefits; seek appropriate accommodations; and could benefit from integration programs, public education and training, and essential medical care, especially in the case of vulnerable persons. Their dependents, if in the country when the status is conferred, enjoy the same rights and benefits. However, this status does not provide family reunification, a path to citizenship, or other benefits of refugee status under the 1951 convention.

The government also provides "temporary humanitarian protection" as an administrative procedure granted in special and extraordinary cases in which applicants are found not to be eligible for asylum or subsidiary protection but are considered to be in need of protection for special humanitarian reasons. This protection was provided to six persons from January through August.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

The constitution provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair elections based on universal suffrage.

Elections and Political Participation

In March 2008 the country held parliamentary elections that observers considered to free and fair. On June 6, the country held elections to the European Parliament that were considered free and fair.

Political parties operated without restriction or outside interference.

There were six women in the 65‑seat parliament and two in the 14‑member Cabinet of Ministers. Approximately 13 percent of senior government officials were women, and two women held ambassadorial rank. There were two female judges and six female magistrates. None of the country's five members of the European Parliament was a woman.

There were no members of minorities in the government.

Section 4 Official Corruption and Government Transparency

The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, and the government generally implemented these laws effectively. There were isolated reports of government corruption during the year.

In November a court found former chief justice Noel Arrigo guilty of accepting money to reduce the sentence of a drug trafficker, of trading in influence, and of revealing official secrets. On November 26, he received a sentence of two years and nine months in prison. One of his colleagues on the three-member Criminal Court of Appeals pleaded guilty to related charges in 2007, apologized, and served a two‑year sentence. Arrigo indicated he would appeal the verdict and the sentence. In October the COE's Group of States against Corruption issued a report indicating their judgment that penalties for judicial corruption were too low.

Government officials are subject to financial disclosure laws; the court has the right to order financial disclosure, depending on its judgment of the circumstances. The police and the Permanent Commission against Corruption were responsible for combating official corruption.

Laws relating to certain sectors of the economy give the press and public access to certain government‑held information relating to those sectors. For government activities in areas not specified in these laws, there was no legal entitlement to government-held information; however, authorities generally provided access. A freedom of information law enacted in 2008 was scheduled to enter into full force in 2010. A newly established Information and Data Protections Commission, the regulatory agency responsible for implementing the act, began to issue initial directives establishing the scope of its jurisdiction.

Section 5 Governmental Attitudes Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating human rights cases. Government officials were cooperative and generally responsive to their views. The government cooperated with UN and other international bodies. The Standing Committee on Foreign and European Affairs and the Standing Committee on Social Affairs of the parliament have responsibilities for human rights issues.

The president appoints an ombudsman with the consent of two thirds of the members of parliament. The ombudsman is empowered to investigate complaints about the activities of governmental bodies, including activities that affect human rights. The ombudsman only investigates complaints when administrative or judicial remedies are not available. When the ombudsman concludes that a complaint is wholly or partly justified, he submits recommendations to the public entity concerned with the aim of undoing the harm the complainant suffered. The ombudsman has no power to force acceptance of any recommended remedy; however, most of his recommendations were accepted.

Section 6 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

The constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status, and the government generally enforced these prohibitions effectively.


Rape, including spousal rape, is a criminal offense, and the government effectively prosecuted such crimes. The crimes of rape, spousal rape, and indecent assault carry sentences of up to 10 years in prison. Rape was not perceived to be a widespread problem. However, there were convictions for rape during the year.

From January through October, the police domestic violence unit received 467 reports of domestic violence. The law makes domestic violence a criminal offense, and the government effectively enforced the laws prohibiting it. Penalties ranged from three months to 20 years in prison. Some NGOs and victims' assistance advocates asserted that domestic violence was underreported, primarily because of concerns by women that they would not be believed or protected by law enforcement personnel.

A special police unit and several voluntary organizations provided support to victims of domestic violence. There was a hotline to assist victims of abuse through counseling and shelter referrals. The government also supported victims through the Ministry for Social Policy. A government‑supported shelter for women and children was in operation throughout the year; the government also provided financial support to other shelters, including one operated by the Catholic Church.

The law prohibits prostitution, and the government effectively enforced it. The law provides for sentences of several months to two years in prison and fines. From January through October, police recorded 71 separate cases of prostitution. There were a number of prosecutions during the year.

There were no reports that police or other security forces participated in or tolerated prostitution or targeted persons in prostitution for abuse.

Sexual harassment is unlawful and punishable by a 2,329 euro ($3,260) fine, six months' imprisonment, or both.

The government recognized the basic right of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children. Health clinics and local health NGOs operated freely in disseminating information on family planning. There were no restrictions on access to contraceptives. There was a free and effective government health program which provides for prenatal and postnatal care and delivery, as well as other related medical services. Men and women received equal access to diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Women have the same legal rights as men, including, but not limited to, family and property law. Redress in the courts for sexual discrimination was available. The Ministry for Social Policy and the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality were responsible for gender equality and focused on broader integration of women into society and advising the government on the implementation of policies promoting equality of women and men.

The constitution prohibits discrimination based on gender. This prohibition was generally enforced in practice.

Although women constituted a growing proportion of higher education graduates and of the workforce, they were underrepresented in management and their earnings were generally less than those of their male counterparts. According to second quarter statistics, the unemployment rate for women was 6.9 percent compared with 7.0 percent for men. Figures on the wage disparity between women and men differed moderately; the National Statistical Office indicated that for 2008, men were paid 17 percent more than women in comparable jobs, and the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) reported in January that the pay gap was 23 percent. Between the end of 2007 and the end of 2008 (the latest period for which statistics are available), the female employment rate rose from 36.3 percent to 38.5 percent, while the male employment rate decreased from 73.5 percent to 71.6 percent.


Citizenship is generally derived from one's parents, although some specific applications of the law can be complex.

In 2008 the Child Protection Service of Appogg, the social welfare services arm of the Ministry for Social Policy, received 854 referrals of possibly abused children, down from 1,060 in 2007. The case turnover total was 1,256, down from 1,512 the prior year. There were 464 new cases, down from 716 in 2007. Courts convicted a number of persons for the sexual abuse of minors during the year. Some observers speculated that part of the decline was due to an increase in the legal drinking age from 16 to 17, resulting in significantly fewer minors in potentially predatory situations.

A number of sources consistently claimed that authorities did not pursue cases of alleged sexual abuse of children by Catholic clerics unless a parent or adult filed a formal complaint but instead allowed the church to handle the matter internally. Once a complaint was filed, however, authorities followed the same police investigative and judicial processes as for other such complaints.

Statutory rape is punishable by three to six years in prison. The minimum age of consent is 18. Rape committed by violence carries a penalty of imprisonment for three to nine years, with or without solitary confinement. Creation of child pornography is prohibited and punishable by imprisonment from one to five years (up to eight years in special circumstances). Possession of child pornography is also prohibited and punishable by imprisonment not exceeding two years.

Trafficking in Persons

The law prohibits trafficking in persons for all purposes; however, there were rare reports that persons were trafficked to the country for sexual exploitation.

The number of cases was too small to constitute a pattern, but the country has been a destination for women trafficked from Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Sweden, and other European countries. In addition irregular migrants from African countries who arrived en route to Italy and elsewhere may be vulnerable to human trafficking.

Most traffickers appeared to be Maltese nationals acting independently. In some earlier cases, traffickers appear to have identified vulnerable targets for sexual exploitation after the potential victims arrived in the country. In other cases traffickers recruited their victims abroad, telling them they would be performing legitimate work in Malta, and later forcing them into prostitution.

The law makes trafficking an offense punishable by two to nine years in prison. Punishment is more severe for offenses which are accompanied by grievous bodily harm, generate proceeds of more than 11,646 euros ($16,654), or are organized by a criminal network. Authorities may prosecute alleged traffickers regardless of citizenship if the suspected offense took place within the country.

The law states that a person who uses violence, deceit, or threats to force a person to depart, or come to, the country for the purpose of prostitution is subject to imprisonment for up to two years with or without solitary confinement. The maximum sentence increases to five years if victims are less than 21 years of age and may be as high as 10 years if there are aggravating circumstances.

There were no reports of new prosecutions for trafficking during the year. A case in which four persons were apprehended in 2006 for trafficking a Romanian woman for commercial sexual exploitation was not concluded; the judge heard the case in March 2007 but delayed further proceedings pending resolution of a related case that was on appeal.

There were no reports that authorities condoned or facilitated trafficking in persons during the year; however, a police officer convicted of complicity in trafficking in 2005 remained free on appeal.

No domestic NGOs specialized in assisting human trafficking victims; the government assisted foreign victims through government-funded shelters used primarily for victims of domestic violence. Authorities also offered assistance through the social welfare system.

Authorities developed a formal system for referring all women in prostitution apprehended by police to government social workers and began proactively seeking to identify trafficking victims among asylum seekers. However, authorities did not identify any trafficking victims during the first 11 months of the year. There were no reports that authorities punished trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked.

Authorities arrested suspected traffickers and offered protection to victims. They also provided protection to witnesses and encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers; victims were willing to testify only in closed hearings. Once victims provided evidence, authorities returned them to the care of social services, at which time they typically requested repatriation to their countries of origin.

In March 2008 police and the Ministry for Social Policy signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize a screening process for all persons arrested for engaging in prostitution to determine whether they were victims of trafficking or other abuses. NGOs interviewed all migrants in an effort to determine whether they might be potential victims of trafficking.

Authorities may issue residence permits to nonnationals who have been trafficking victims or were implicated in facilitating trafficking, provided that they cooperate with the competent authorities.

The government cooperated with other governments in the investigation of trafficking. In 2008 police cooperated with the International Criminal Police Organization-INTERPOL and Russian authorities to arrest individuals in Moscow based on information gathered through local trafficking investigations.

Authorities also improved efforts to protect victims of trafficking. In February Appogg conducted a training session on victim assistance for government social workers, including those who work with the irregular migrant population. Also in February more than 80 police personnel and social workers participated in training to prevent trafficking and identify and protect trafficking victims.

The government boosted prevention activities during the last year. To raise awareness, Appogg produced detailed brochures that included information to help identify possible and potential victims and described sources of assistance. They were distributed at health clinics, community centers, churches, and, to target potential clients of the sex trade, at entertainment centers. In January police provided training in identifying and assisting trafficking victims to 60 officers. The government publishes brochures and supports a Web site with links to a hotline to educate the public on prevention of trafficking.

The State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report can be found at www.state.gov/g/tip.

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits both the public and private sectors from discriminating against persons with disabilities in employment, education, health care, access to goods and services, housing, and insurance, and the government effectively enforced these provisions. As of the end of September, the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), the agency responsible for enforcement of this law, was working on 113 discrimination complaints pending from previous years. During the year ending in September, the NCPD opened investigations into 130 new cases and satisfactorily concluded 137.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The population included more than 10,000 persons of Arab, African, and eastern European origin. There continued to be isolated reports that owners of some bars and discos periodically discouraged or prohibited darker‑skinned persons, particularly of African or Arab origin, from entering their establishments.

In June authorities charged a bouncer at a popular entertainment area with causing a serious injury followed by death after a Sudanese migrant, whom he allegedly hit in the face, died of head trauma. The case was ongoing at year's end.

Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

From October 29 to November 1, the Malta Gay Rights Movement hosted the International Lesbian and Gay Association-Europe Conference with an estimated 300 participants from 48 countries. It also freely carried out other public activities.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

There were no reports of discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS.

Section 7 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The constitution allows workers to form and join unions of their choice without previous authorization or excessive requirements, and workers did so in practice. The law does not allow uniformed military and police personnel to join unions. Approximately 55 percent of the workforce was unionized. The law allows unions to conduct their activities without interference, and the government protected this right in practice. Workers, with the exception of uniformed military and police personnel, have the right to strike, and during the year they exercised this right by conducting legal strikes. The government did not respond to urging by the International Labor Organization that it amend the labor law to eliminate compulsory arbitration; however, this provision was not employed during the year.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The law provides for collective bargaining, and it was freely practiced. Many employees without the right to strike or join unions participated in associations, such as the police association, through which they sought to protect their interests.

The law protects collective bargaining. During the year there were no reports of antiunion discrimination or other forms of employer interference in union activities.

There are no special laws or exemptions from regular labor laws in the country's one export processing zone.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children; however, there were reports that women were trafficked, primarily from abroad, for purposes of forced commercial sexual exploitation (see section 6, Trafficking in Persons).

d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

There are laws and policies to protect children from exploitation in the workplace, and the government generally implemented them effectively; however, there were reports that underage children worked as domestic laborers, restaurant kitchen help, or vendors, and during the summer in family‑owned businesses.

The law prohibits the employment of children younger than 16. The director general of the directorate for educational services may grant an exemption for employment only after determining that it would not harm the health or normal development of the minor.

The Employment Training Corporation (ETC), a government entity under the Ministry for Social Policy, is responsible for labor and employment issues. It generally enforced the law effectively in most formal sectors of the economy but allowed summer employment of underage youth in businesses operated by their families.

No assessment was available of the effectiveness with which the ETC monitored the often unregistered employment of children as domestic employees, restaurant workers, and street vendors.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The national weekly minimum wage of 146.47 euros ($209), combined with an annual mandatory bonus of 270 euros ($386) and a cost-of-living increase of 242 euros ($346) (automatically adjusted annually), provided a decent standard of living for a worker and family. Following consultations with workers and employers, the government established the minimum wage, which it revised annually based on changes in the cost of living.

Irregular migrant workers from Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, and other sub-Saharan African countries, who comprised a small but unquantifiable percentage of the workforce, sometimes worked under conditions that did not meet the government's minimum standards for employment. In September 2008, according to press accounts, the General Workers' Union (GWU) issued a report documenting what it called the "exploitation" of migrant workers. The general secretary of the GWU told a press conference that such workers were often employed in the most hazardous of occupations, such as road construction and highway refuse cleanup, where traffic and environmental conditions pose a danger, and in the building trades, where accidents such as collapses may occur. In many cases, migrants received less than the minimum wage. In November 2008 AWAS (then called the Organization for the Integration and Welfare of Asylum Seekers), in coordination with the ETC, established informational programs to help individuals understand how to pursue employment and obtain work permits. The GWU and AWAS believed that the programs were beneficial, but there was no data to validate this assessment.

During the year the government ended an assisted voluntary return program called "Dar" (Maltese and Arabic for "Home"), through which irregular migrants who volunteered to leave the country could receive free rail or air fare to their country of origin, plus 5,000 euros ($7,350). At year's end the program had successfully repatriated 112 immigrants, the majority from Ghana, Nigeria, and Sudan. The Dar program was replaced by an 80‑percent EU-funded program called "Restart I," administered for the government by the International Office of Migration. Restart provided 200 euros ($288) cash, and up to 2,000 euros ($2,880) toward education or business start-up costs, as well as additional educational preparation toward a migrant's return. By year's end Restart I had repatriated 29 migrants to their countries of origin. This program was scheduled to continue under the name "Restart II" in 2010.

The standard workweek was 40 hours, but in some occupations, such as health care providers, airport workers, and civil protection services, it was 43 or 45 hours. Government regulations provided for a daily rest period, which is normally one hour, and one day of rest per week. Premium pay is required for overtime. Excessive compulsory overtime is prohibited, and workers cannot be obligated to work more than 48 hours, inclusive of overtime. The Ministry of Social Policy generally enforced these requirements effectively in the formal economy.

The Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA), a government entity composed of representatives of the government, unions, and employers, conducted regular inspections at work sites and cited a number of offenders. Enforcement of health and safety standards continued to be uneven; industrial accidents remained frequent, particularly in the manufacturing and building and construction sectors. Workers have the right to remove themselves from situations that endangered health or safety without jeopardizing their employment, and OHSA generally enforced this right.

Malta Human Rights - History

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that Malta breached human rights law in most of the cases before it over the last 60 years, statistics show.

The ECtHR delivered a total of 101 judgments on Malta, of which 74 found there was at least one violation of human rights.

The ECtHR issued detailed statistics of all judgments it handed down in relation to all the violations by Article and State dating back to when it was established in 1959 up until 2019.

The majority of cases were linked to the right to protection of property, with 30 judgments on issues ranging from expropriation, rent law or requisition orders. In fact, in 2018, one judgment pointed out that Malta should “put an end to the systemic violation of the right of property”.

The second-highest number of judgments (26) were linked to the right of liberty and security.

Monaco had the least number of judgments (3), followed by Andorra (8) and Liechtenstein (9).

Turkey topped the list with 3,645 judgements, followed by Russia with 2,699 and Italy with 2,410. The bulk of judgments in these three countries were found to have at least one violation.

The freedom of liberty of expression

Five judgments related to Malta focused on Article 10 – the freedom of liberty of expression. Libel and defamation judgments fall in this category.

Earlier this month, Judge Giovanni Bonello, former Judge at the European Court of Human Rights, said that none of the Maltese libel judgments taken up to the European Court was “confirmed or found justifiable”.

Describing it as a “human rights massacre”, Bonello said, “those judgments were no doubt deemed good enough for Malta, but they were worse than garbage on the world stage. The ECtHR did not have a skip large enough to contain them”.

The judgments that fall under Article 10 for Malta are:

1. Unifaun Theatre vs Malta

The theatre company turned to the ECtHR after the now inexistent Maltese Film and Stage Classification Board and the Maltese courts had banned its production, Stitching, because the script included swearing. Eight years later, in 2018, the ECtHR unanimously decided in favour of the theatre company, saying there had been a violation of their freedom of expression, allowing them to go ahead with the show.

2. Falzon vs Malta

This libel case involved two Maltese members of Parliament, both Michael Falzon, but from opposing sides of the House. Former PN Minister Michael Falzon lost a libel case when Maltese courts found that an opinion article he wrote about his namesake Labour MP Michael Falzon was defamatory. In the article, Falzon had pointed out that there were people who could influence and interfere in decisions taken by the police force after his Labour MP had received an anonymous email together with threatening letters. The ECtHR said his opinion piece was legitimate criticism.

3. John Anthony Mizzi vs Malta

This case involved a letter to the editor, an 86-year-old man, a yacht marina project and a defunct prime minister. In 1994, The Sunday Times of Malta published a letter by 86-year-old Mizzi who said the residents of St Paul’s Bay had not been consulted on a proposal to build a yacht marina in the area. He also commented that former prime minister Sir Paul Boffa had given permission to build in the bay because “Dr Boffa wanted to build there”. Boffa’s heirs took the case to court as they felt this was defamatory but the European Court said this breached Mizzi’s right to expression because the detail about Boffa was mentioned in passing and the subject of the piece had died more than 30 years before the article was published.

4. Aquilina & Others vs Malta

This case dates back to 1995 when a court reporter for The Times of Malta wrote a story that a lawyer was found guilty of contempt of court for failing to turn up for a sitting. The lawyer demanded an apology, saying it was not the case. Since nothing could be verified in the minutes of the sitting, The Times of Malta had issued an apology. Yet, the lawyer still sued for defamation and won. The case was eventually taken to the ECtHR, which found there was a violation of Article 10 as the reporter had acted in good faith and in line with her duty of responsible reporting.

5. Lombardo & Others vs Malta

A dispute over roadworks in Fgura and a letter to the editor ended up in the ECtHR after three Nationalist Fgura councillors in 2001 published the article in the Party-owned Nationalist paper saying the local council was ignoring public opinion on the matter. The local council sued, accusing the three councillors and the newspaper’s editor of defamation. These were found guilty. However, the European Court eventually overturned the Maltese courts’ decision.

The ECtHR abstained from taking a decision on the case Calleja v Malta because both parties had reached a settlement.

Feilazoo v. Malta (European Court of Human Rights)

Facts – The applicant, a Nigerian national, was placed in immigration detention pending deportation. His detention lasted for around fourteen months.

The applicant complained, inter alia, of the conditions of his detention. In relation to the proceedings before the Court, he alleged that he had not had the opportunity to correspond with the Court without interference by the prison authorities, and had been denied access to materials intended to substantiate his application.

Article 3 – Conditions of detention

The Court was particularly struck by the fact that the applicant had been held alone in a container for nearly seventy-five days without access to natural light or air, and that during the first forty days he had had no opportunity to exercise. Furthermore, during that period, and particularly the first forty days, the applicant had been subjected to a de facto isolation. The applicant had been put in isolation for his own protection, upon his request. However, the stringency and duration of the measure put in place, namely, that for at least forty days the applicant had had barely any contact with anyone, seemed excessive in the circumstances. No measures appeared to have been taken by the authorities to ensure that the applicant’s physical and psychological condition had allowed him to remain in isolation, nor did it appear that, in the specific circumstances of the case, any other alternatives to that isolation had been envisaged.

Furthermore, following that period, the applicant had been moved to other living quarters where new arrivals (of asylum seekers) had been kept in Covid-19 quarantine. There was not indication that the applicant had been in need of such quarantine – particularly after an isolation period which had lasted for nearly seven weeks. Thus, placing him, for several weeks, with other persons who could have posed a risk to his health, in the absence of any relevant consideration to that effect, could not be considered as a measure complying with basic sanitary requirements.

Conclusion: violation (unanimously).

(a) Correspondence with the Court

The authorities had failed to ensure that the applicant had been provided with the possibility of obtaining copies of documents which he had needed to substantiate his application, and his correspondence concerning the case before the Court had not been dealt with under confidential cover. Information relating to ongoing proceedings before the Court being openly relayed via third persons, which moreover could be the subject of such complaints, might create a risk of reprisal. In that connection, while domestic law provided for the possibility of domestic complaints being made in confidence, no such safeguard appeared to apply concerning complaints and subsequent communication with international bodies.

In the circumstances of the case, the authorities’ failures had amounted to an unjustified interference with the right of individual petition.

(b) Domestic legal aid representation

The Court had regard to its case-law under Article 6: in discharging the obligation to provide parties to civil proceedings with legal aid, when provided by domestic law, the State had to display diligence so as to secure to those persons the genuine and effective enjoyment of the rights guaranteed under Article 6 (Staroszczyk v. Poland, 59519/00, 22 March 2007 Siałkowska v. Poland, 8932/05, 22 March 2007 and Bąkowska v. Poland, 33539/02, 12 January 2010).

In the present case, after notice of a number of complaints had been given to the Government, a lawyer had been required for the purposes of the proceedings before the Court and at that stage legal aid had been granted to the applicant and a local legal aid lawyer had been appointed by the domestic courts. However, that grant had not been enough to safeguard the applicant’s right to individual petition in a “concrete and effective manner”. The Court left open the issue of the quality of the advice given to the applicant or whether pressure had been exerted on him to drop his case. The applicant’s local legal aid representative had failed to keep regular confidential client-lawyer contact and had abandoned her mandate without informing the applicant (and/or Court) and without obtaining the revocation of her appointment by the domestic courts. As a result, contrary to her duty, she had failed to make submissions on behalf of the applicant when requested, which could have irremediably prejudiced the applicant’s case. The Government had been informed of the foregoing, yet no steps had been taken by any State authority to improve the situation.

The situation, as developed over time, had led the President of the Chamber to take appropriate action to safeguard the applicant’s right of individual petition. Nevertheless, the behaviour of the legal representative and the lack of any action by the State authorities had led to the prolongation of the proceedings before the Court, despite the fact that the case had been given priority. In the circumstances, those failings had amounted to ineffective representation in special circumstances which incurred the State’s liability under the Convention.

The applicant had persistently pursued his case and contacted the relevant authorities to obtain pertinent information or to make further complaints, to no avail. In the absence of any relevant contact he had informed the Court about the continuing situation. He had therefore showed the required diligence by following his case conscientiously and attempting to maintain effective contact with his nominated representatives, despite the difficulties faced while in detention.

In light of the above, the applicant had been put in a position in which his efforts to exercise his right to individual petition before the Court by way of legal representation appointed under the domestic legal aid system had failed, as a result of the State’s hindrance.

Conclusion: violation (unanimously).

The Court also held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1, as the grounds for the applicant’s detention (action taken with a view to his deportation) had not remained valid for the whole period of his deprivation of liberty, and his detention had therefore been unlawful.

Article 41: EUR 25,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage claim in respect of pecuniary damage dismissed.

Why the Tiny Island of Malta Has Europe's Most Progressive Gay Rights

M alta, the tiny southern European island with a population of just over 420,000, made history earlier this month by becoming the first European country to criminalize “deceptive and harmful” conversion therapy, defined as any practice which aims to change, repress or eliminate a person&rsquos sexual orientation or gender identity.

Under the new bill which was passed unanimously on Dec. 5, those who practice conversion therapy will face fines ranging between &euro1,000 and &euro5,000 ($1,065 and $5,324) and a potential five month jail term. The bill also states that neither sexual orientation nor gender identification can be classified as a disease, disorder or shortcoming of any sort. In addition, the age at which people can independently request for their gender to be changed in official documents has been lowered from 18 to 16.

These are bold moves for a predominately Catholic country that only began allowing divorce in 2011, and is the only member of the European Union that still considers abortion of any kind to be a criminal offence. Yet Malta is ranked number one in the ILGA-Europe (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) ranking of all 49 countries in Europe in terms of their respect of human rights and equality.

Since Marie Louise Coleiro Preca of the Labour Party was sworn in as Malta’s president on April 4 2014 (at 55, she became the country’s youngest president in history), a number of progressive bills have been introduced, from civil unions to equal adoption rights for same-sex couples. On Nov. 30, the government’s Civil Liberties Minister, Helena Dalli, was awarded the Hero of the Year award at the European Diversity Awards held in London, partly for overseeing the enactment of a law that removes the legal requirements for LGBTQ people to have their gender identity recognized by the state.

“Life has changed a lot for gay people in Malta over the past two years,” says Russell Sammut, a Maltese citizen who runs gaymalta.com, part of the Allied Rainbow Communities nonprofit organization. “Up until 2014 we had no rights here, but once civil unions were enacted people changed their attitudes overnight. Everyone is afraid of the unknown, but now they’ve seen there’s no threat to society, they’re fine with same-sex partnerships.”

Sammut, 31, who came out aged 16 and says he’s never had any “major issues” in terms of homophobia in Malta, thinks the new bill sends an important message to Maltese citizens. “The clear message from the state is that if you’re gay that’s fine and there’s nothing you should be getting cured of,” he says.

A left-wing, LGBTQ-minded government is not the only reason why Malta is paving the way for gay rights in Europe. Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of Human Rights Watch’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program, believes Malta’s gaining of E.U. membership in May 2004 has made a huge difference to the country. “Like the U.K., Malta is an island and people can be inward looking there,” he tells TIME. “E.U. membership and the increased tourism that came with it has changed this.”

However, while Malta has been recognized for its more progressive policies on gay rights, in some respects it is still very conservative. HIV treatment provisions are well behind other European countries, Sammut says, and abortion remains a taboo. “It’s too controversial. Governments put it on the back-burner and don’t want to discuss it,” he adds.

Moreover, some feel the city’s acceptance only goes so far. Lauren Salerno, a 53-year-old transgender woman who moved to Malta from the U.K. roughly six months ago due to what she calls “severe transphobia” there, does not think the island where her parents grew up is as supportive and open towards trans rights as it is towards gay rights. “On the surface, Malta is more accepting and there’s a lot less direct discrimination here,” she tells TIME. “But when I tried finding work I was basically told that I didn’t look right, even for things like waitressing or shop jobs. I had a weekend trial in a restaurant but customers complained – not about my service but about me being trans.”

Salerno has been in transition since 2009 and a trans-activist for around 15 years. Three decades ago, aged 22, she enrolled on a Christian rehabilitation program in the U.K. not unlike the conversion therapies that have recently been outlawed in Malta, but with a focus on drugs and alcohol. “It was my decision [to enrol] because I was brought up believing being trans was wrong and evil and I loathed myself because of it,” she says. “I was an extremely vulnerable person at the time I’d had two breakdowns and lost both my parents. During the program I had psychological and psychiatric counselling, demons cast out of me and I was basically told to get married and have lots of sex, which would cure me.”

Hearing that Malta has outlawed such therapies pleases Salerno, but she is frustrated that despite recommendations from the Commissioner for Human Rights, treatment still isn’t free for Maltese trans people. Her own treatment has been on hold since moving because she says doctors will not prescribe her hormones. “I’m glad this ban is in place and trans rights certainly have been hugely advanced in Malta. But, for me, it seems like a lot of the peripheral issues like changing a name or conversion therapy have progressed, while this fundamental human right to be treated for our gender dysphoria is on the back-burner.”

Malta: Illegal tactics mar another year of suffering in central Mediterranean

T he Maltese government has resort ed to dangerous and illegal measures for dealing with the arrivals of refugees and migrants at sea , which are exposing countless people to appalling suffering and risking their lives , Amnesty International revealed today in a report “ Waves of impunity: Malta’s human rights violations Europe’s responsibilities in the Central Mediterranean ” . As Amnesty is launching this new report, despair is growing aboard the Maersk Etienne, which has been denied a port to disembark for over a month, after rescuing 27 people on a request from Maltese authorities.

The Maltese government’s change in approach to arrivals in the central Mediterranean in 2020 has seen them take unlawful , and sometimes unprecedented, measures to avoid assist ing refugees and migrants. Th is escalation of tactics included arranging unlawful pushback s to Libya , diverting boats to wards Italy rather than rescuing people in distress, illegally detaining hundreds of people on ill-equipped ferries off Malta ’s waters , and signing a new agreement with Libya to prevent people from reaching Malta .

“Malta is stooping to ever more despicable and illegal tactics to shirk their responsibilities to people in need. Shamefully, t he EU and Italy ha ve normali z ed cooperation with Liby a on border control , b ut send ing people back to danger in Libya is anything but normal , ” said Elisa D e Pieri, Regional R esearcher at Amnesty International.

“ EU member states must stop assisting in the return of people t o a country where they face unspeakable horrors .”

Some of th e actions taken by the Maltese authorities may have involved criminal acts being committed , resulting in avoidable deaths, prolonged arbitrary detention, and illegal returns to war-torn Libya. The authorities also used the C OVID -19 pandemic as a pretext to declare that Mal ta was not a safe place t o disembark - to discourage people from seeking safety and a decent life in Europe.

The abusive practices by Malta are part and parcel of wider efforts by EU member states and institutions to outsource the control of the central Mediterranean to Libya , in order that EU-supported Libyan authorities might intercept refugees and migrants at sea before they reach Europe.

People are then returned to Libya and arbitrarily det ained in places where torture and other ill-treatment is highly likely. From the beginning of January to 27 August 2020 7,256 people were ‘pulled back’ to Libya by the EU-supporte d Libyan Coast Guard , which was often alerted of the presence of boats at sea by airplanes engaged in Frontex and other EU operations .

The Easter Monday pushback

The case of the “Easter Monday pushback” illustrates the desperate lengths to which the Maltese authorities are willing to go to prevent people arriving on their shores.

On 15 April 2020 , a group of 51 people, including seven women and three children, were unlawfully returned to Tripoli after be ing rescued in Malta’s search and rescue region by the commercial fishing boat Dar Al Salam 1 .

The boat, which had been contracted by the Maltese go v ernmen t , took those onboard back to Libya and handed them over to the Libyan authorities , exposing refugees and migrants – who had just survived a deadly shipwreck – to further risks to their life .

Five people were dead when the vessel reached Libya, and the survivors reported that a further seven people were missing at sea. Survivors reported that those on board were not given medical assistance. In an official statement the Maltese authorities confirmed they had coordinated the operation.

Lack of accountability in Malta

While a magisterial inquiry into the case was conducted , it left many questions unanswered . It is still unknown how the 12 people died and how 51 were returned to Libya despite it being illegal to transfer people there . The magistrate conducting the inquiry did not hear the testimonies of the 51 people transferred to Libya , nor probe the chain of responsibility to contract the Dar El Salam 1 and instruct it to transfer people to Libya .

The NGO Alarm Phone has evidence that other pushbacks by Maltese authorities may also have occurred in 2019 and 2020, which have not been investigated .

EU and Italian cooperation with Libya

Italy in particular has worked closely with Libya , having provide d support to Libya n maritime authorities by providing vessels , training and assistance in the establish ment of a Libyan SAR region to facilitate pull b acks by the Libyan coastguard .

Despite intensifying conflict and the arrival of COVID-19 threatening the humanitarian situation of refugees and migrants in Libya, Italy has continued to implement policies to keep people in Libya . These include extending its Memorandum of Understanding on Migration with Libya aimed at boosting Libyan authorities ’ resources to prevent departures , for another three years , extending its military operations in the region focusing on support ing Libya’s maritime authorities, and maintaining legislation an d practices aim ed at the criminalization of NGOs rescuing people in the central Mediterranean .

The central Mediterranean is the latest border on which Amnesty International is highlighting abuses by EU member state s authorities . In 2020 , Amnesty International has also documented abuses on the border s between Croatia and Bosnia , and Greece and Turkey . The EU urgently needs an independent and effective human rights monitoring system at its external border s to ensure accountability for violations and abuses.

“ The European Commission must turn the page when they launch the N ew Pact on M igration and Asylum after the summer and ensure European border control and European migration policies uphold the rights of refugees and migrants ,” said Elisa D e Pieri .

“The horrors faced by people returned to Libya must caution European leaders against cooperati ng with countries which don’t respect human rights . By continu ing to empower abusers and to hide their h ead s in the sand when violations are committed, those EU leaders share responsibility for them .”

Human Rights Lawyers in Malta

Our team at IURIS has extensive experience in the field of human rights, having represented clients in protecting and safeguarding their freedom of expression, freedom from discrimination on the grounds of age, sexual orientation, gender identity, race or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sex and disability and migration, as well as the right to a fair trial and the right to property.

IURIS, a Malta human rights law firm, provide expertise to local and European institutions as well as assist private clients in court. We have contributed to publications on human rights and participated in European projects as partners forming part of Europe-wide networks. Moreover, our lawyers have experience and expertise in European funding on human rights, equality and citizenship .

Accomplishments and Pitfalls: Human Rights in Malta

VALETTA — Malta is a European country made up of a small cluster of islands in the center of the Mediterranean Sea. With a total area smaller than most major cities, Malta is one of the smallest and least inhabited countries in the world.

State of the Economy and Human Rights

Despite Malta’s miniscule size, the country is well-developed and in possession of a strong trade economy. Malta’s impressive per capita GDP, unemployment rate and other fiscal indicators demonstrate the island nation’s economic prosperity.

Thanks to these economic triumphs, the population and human rights in Malta do not suffer from the conditions of deprivation and instability that affect many poverty-stricken countries. Also, according to the State Department, Malta largely adheres to acceptable standards for human rights, and provides for such freedoms in its constitution and democratic government.

The independent judicial system, free press and stable political climate protect the people from despotic abuses of government power, helping to preserve human rights in Malta. However, the constitutional and legal protections in Malta are not fully egalitarian for example, publicly criticizing the president or disrupting “public morality” are punishable by law.

Religious freedom is also protected in Malta. Although Roman Catholicism is the predominant and legally recognized state religion, Maltese law protects other religious groups as well as non religious individuals. Also, students in Maltese public schools can opt out of the compulsory Catholic education classes.

Malta’s deep-rooted Catholic conservatism historically barred divorce and LGBT rights, although the country has begun to adopt a more progressive stance regarding these issues. In 2011, a referendum vote legalized divorce and in July of this year, the Maltese Parliament passed legislation that established marriage equality for all.

Need for Improvement: Abortion, Refugees and Asylum Seekers

However, Malta’s recent progress in regards to human rights is limited. Abortion, even in instances where the mother’s life is in danger, remains banned. Even Malta’s progressive Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who introduced the marriage equality bill, is not considering lifting the abortion ban.

Perhaps the most notable issue of human rights in Malta is the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers migrating to Europe from Africa and the Middle East. Because of Malta’s location in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, the island nation receives an oftentimes imposing number of refugees fleeing for safety by boat. According to Malta’s former refugee policy, migrants entering Malta through irregular means were to be automatically detained and processed. Such detentions were largely arbitrary and could last for years.

Thankfully, Malta has adopted a new framework for the treatment of refugees. The new policy greatly shortened the detention period to around a week at most, and provided for limited due process in the court of law. Despite the revisions, organizations such as the U.N. criticize Malta’s new policy for not adhering to international law.

Human rights in Malta are generally well-protected because of the country’s stable institutions and economy. However, Malta has only begun to adopt more progressive social policies as a result of its strong, conservative religious roots.

The country has largely failed to treat refugees fairly, and with this and other human rights situations in mind, Malta now needs to build upon its recent progress and provide for more egalitarian human rights protections overall.

Malta: Human rights experts call for justice in case of murdered journalist

Two years since the murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on the Mediterranean island of Malta, justice has yet to be served for the shocking crime, UN-appointed independent rights experts said on Wednesday.

In an appeal to the Maltese authorities to do more to find the ringleaders and masterminds responsible as their top political priority, Special Rapporteurs Agnes Callamard and David Kaye suggested that too little had been done to fully investigate her killing.

“Two years have passed. No convictions, no trials of ringleaders and masterminds,” they said in a joint statement with monitors Dunja Mijatović from regional human rights body, the Council of Europe, and Harlem Désir from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

#Malta must establish accountability for murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Two years later, @AgnesCallamard, @davidakaye and @coe & @OSCE experts say authorities have failed to fully investigate the killing.

“On the contrary, posthumous libel suits continue to target the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia and makeshift memorials of her are frequently removed. This only adds to the sorrow and pain of her family and loved ones.”

Ms. Caruana Galizia, a well-known investigative reporter who made a name for herself uncovering graft in the Mediterranean island, was killed by a bomb planted under her car seat near her home in Bidnija, on 16 October 2017.

Three men who were charged with her murder were “finally” ordered to stand trial, the rights experts noted, almost 20 months after the killing.

According to media reports of initial court proceedings, the defendants, who were charged with planting and detonating the bomb, pleaded not guilty, and are awaiting trial.

Ahead of Wednesday’s statement by the rights experts, the Maltese authorities announced that a public inquiry into the killing had been set up.

Highlighting the need for accountability for “not only those who carried out the murder, but everyone complicit in it, including the masterminds behind it”, the experts underlined widespread public revulsion at the crime, which “shook people in Europe and beyond”.

Journalism – as practised by Daphne Caruana Galizia is in the interest of the public and democracy, the experts maintained, while attacks on journalists “not only deny their right to life…they deny the public’s right to know”.

They added: “The echo of the explosion that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia is still ringing in our memory with the ultimate question: when will justice be served, and bring a little comfort to her loved ones? The Government of Malta owes an answer to Daphne, her family, Maltese society and all journalists around the world.”

According to the UN agency mandated to monitor the safety of journalists, 43 reporters have been killed so far this year, from Afghanistan to the United Kingdom.

That the literacy rate is equal for males and females in Maltese society (88 percent) suggests that both genders use education in carrying out their assigned roles in society. In the public domain of gainful employment, however, there exists less equivalence between the roles of married women and men than between those of single women and men. The public sector is where most Maltese are employed and, according to a long-standing tradition, women with government jobs were expected to resign upon getting married. That men as husbands and fathers should be the principal providers of material support for families has long been consistent with traditional Catholic values and has tended to be a status symbol among the middle and upper classes. However, the Constitution gives both genders equal rights in employment and, as there now exists within the Ministry of Social Development an Equal Status for Women department, more married women are employed than previously. The Soroptimist International of Malta has been making these and other changes for women.

The professions have long been open to both men and women in Malta although higher ecclesiastical positions are reserved for men. Women work as professors, physicians, nurses, reporters, editors, and legislators. In fact, approximately 15 percent of all persons elected to local councils nationwide are female.

Males and females are free to circulate in public without sanction. While it is still a common sight to see men gathered in piazzas or public squares near local churches socializing with each other on Sundays, until recently domestic chores restricted the time available to married women for leisure away from home. There continues to be considerable division of labor based on gender in households. For example, while some men may help to dry dishes and some boys take out rugs for spring cleaning, cooking as well as many other domestic chores generally is expected to be performed by females. Fathers are much less involved in the rearing of infants, especially female infants, than mothers, although the former may sometimes now be seen pushing a pram or carrying a child onto a bus.

Related Posts via Taxonomies

The Court found that the Republic of Malta violated Articles 2 and 8 of the Convention. Given the scientific evidence available, the Maltese government knew or ought to have known about the dangers of being exposed to asbestos from the 1970s onwards. The court also pointed to the 1989 court decision in the death of Paul Pellicano as indicating that the MDC knew about the effects of asbestos. The applicants were left without any effective safeguards against the asbestos or knowledge of the risks of exposure.

The court dismissed the argument that the applicants had yet to exhaust all their domestic legal options, and should file a claim in tort action. The court held that in the event of a breach of articles 2 and 3 of the Convention, compensation for the non-pecuniary damage flowing from the breach should in principle be available as part of the range of possible remedies. The same was true of the applicants’ complaint under Article 8 which in this specific case was closely connected to those provisions. Noting that under Maltese law the constitutional remedy, unlike a civil action in tort, was capable, in theory at least, of affording appropriate compensatory redress in respect of both pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage, and that there was no pre-existing mandatory legal requirement to bring an action in tort before using the constitutional remedy, the Court considered that the applicants could not be blamed for having pursued one remedy instead of two.

“The applicants noted that they were seeking damages arising from death and grievous bodily harm which were not the result of normal torts such as a traffic accidents but which were a result of the Government’s failure to fulfil their positive obligations under the Convention, namely to safeguard a person’s life, to investigate properly any death or harm for which the State was responsible, to provide information about any risk to life or health, and to identify the persons responsible for the violation.” Para. 51.

“It would therefore appear that no information was ever collected or studies undertaken or reports compiled specifically about the asbestos situation at the applicants’ place of work. Furthermore, the Government did not even argue that any general information was, in fact, accessible or made available to the applicants. Instead the Government, seemingly oblivious to the obligations arising from the Convention, opted to consider that it was not their responsibility to provide information at the outset and that anyone in such a work environment would in any case be fully aware of the hazards involved. The Court considers the latter statement to be in stark contrast to the Government’s repeated argument that they (despite being employers and therefore well acquainted with such an environment) were for long unaware of the dangers. The Court further finds inappropriate the Government’s contention that the distribution of the above-mentioned masks was an implicit source of information. Additionally, in relation to the Government’s reference to the information available at the OHSA, the Court notes that this authority was only created after the year 2000 and it could therefore not have been a source of information before that date. It follows that in practice no adequate information was in fact provided or made accessible to the applicants during the relevant period of their careers at the MDC.” Para. 114.

Watch the video: 10 12 Παγκόσμια Ημέρα Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων (July 2022).


  1. Raedbora

    Thanks for the help in this question.

  2. Remy

    You must say you are wrong.

  3. Faujind

    Really and as I have not thought about this before

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