Monday 28 November 2011 - 18:21, by Bianca Caruana
Justice and Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici said that the amendments to a number of laws within the Criminal Code displays a big step for Malta and harsher penalties and disciplinary measures will dissuade future offenders as well as improving the justice system.
The following are several changes which will take place with the new amendments:
Malta Police Association to become Union
Amendments to the Bill will allow the Malta Police Association to gain the status of Union after Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi’s approval was given in Parliament on Sunday.
The Association will be registered under the Employment and Industrial Relations Act to represent completion of an activity to and/or negotiate on behalf of its members in respect of employment conditions. The Act will give the Association recognition as a trade union for collective bargaining in the name of all members. Although gaining recognition as a Union, the union will not be able to carry out industrial action due to forming part of civil protection. The Association will also not be permitted to be associated with or work closely with any other union or association which is not connected to police services.
Increase age for delinquent juvenile classification
The age of criminal responsibility for juvenile delinquents is to be raised from nine years to 14 years of age. For juveniles between the ages 14 and 16, evidence must show malicious intent and criminal acts performed by people between 14 and 16 years, the sentence will be lessened by one or two degrees.
Those individuals found guilty of offences abroad will be considered as relapsers. This is possible using the exchange of information on an EU level. Duly authenticated documents certifying the guilt of a person for the delinquencies committed in foreign countries will be transmissible and admissible in court.
Several discussions were held between Mifsud Bonnici and the gay and lesbian community in Malta regarding protection against homophobia within the courts. As a result, criminal acts motivated by homophobia will be included with offences connected with racism and penalties will be increased by one degree or two.
Age of consent
Amendments to the law will now also allow charges to be dropped of corruption of a minor should the age of the minor be between 16 and 18 years and consented to sexual relations with another person close to the same age, physical and psychological development, and maturity. As long as this method of criteria is followed and there is no evidence of abuse, payment or pornography.
Increased penalties for human trafficking
As a result of preparatory work and reports based in Malta penalties for influencing or prompting under-aged persons for prostitution will be increased from two years imprisonment to five years for the main offence. On grounds of appeal, the sentence of one to two years will be increased to two to seven years imprisonment.
For anyone soliciting underage persons using modern technology will be sentenced from two years to five years instead of 12 months to four years imprisonment. The advertisement of sexual tourism will be penalised by two to five years imprisonment instead of 12 months to two years. These amendments will no longer allow probation in these cases.
Regarding human trafficking of persons of age, imprisonment sentences will be increased from two to nine years to four to 12 years imprisonment. Any accomplices will also be sentenced.
Any organ harvesting will be penalised with six to 12 years imprisonment instead of the current four to 12 years.
A new penalty will be introduced for those convicted of trafficking of minors for the above-mentioned reasons will be imprisoned for up to 10 years. Any company or organisation accused of such actions will receive a fine of up to €2 million instead of the maximum €1,164,686.70 apart from other crimes.
Environmental crimes are being included in the criminal law for the first time and will be dealt with according to EU directives. Actions which will be considered an offence will include such things as harmful waste disposal, and operating a plant where dangerous activity occurs at the risk of harming persons and animals among other things.