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Letters to the editor – October 1, 2023

Treat rape with the forceful response it deserves

We call on all governments across the European Union to ensure that the new EU directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence includes the crime of rape. To exclude this most heinous crime would be shocking and retrogressive – an insult to both women and men. 

Europe condemns the use of rape in armed conflict and continuously calls out this violent act in countries outside of our Union. However, right now in negotiations between the European Parliament and EU countries on the final shape of this legislation, the majority of member State governments are rejecting the inclusion of rape in this law originally drafted to protect women from this very crime. This is shocking, unacceptable and regressive. 

Violence against women and domestic violence is increasing across Europe – the statistics are horrifying. Photo: Chris Sant FournierViolence against women and domestic violence is increasing across Europe – the statistics are horrifying. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

This is the first-ever European piece of legislation to deal with cyber violence, female genital mutilation, prevention of violence and protection for victims. Women in Europe need to be assured that violence against women is combated forcefully all across the EU member states. 

We need a safer Europe, tackling prevention, protection and prosecution of these crimes. Violence against women and domestic violence is increasing across Europe – the statistics are horrifying. 

We must see a united approach from all governments in the EU to tackle these appalling crimes.

Free movement of people is one of the four pillars of our Union – we must ensure that women and men are equally protected from all forms of violence throughout our Union. 

We call on all EU citizens and their governments to ensure that this historic and groundbreaking piece of legislation includes the crime of rape.

Frances Fitzgerald MEP, Evin Incir MEP – Brussels, Belgium

The reign of impunity

Most of us were probably engrossed in following what led to Donald Trump becoming the first former US president to be criminally charged. However, apart from that event that sparked worldwide news, how many of us are aware that, across the globe, 78 countries have jailed or prosecuted leaders who left office since 2000? Indeed, former leaders in many other countries have long been investigated, prosecuted and, occasionally, yes, imprisoned.

While no one should contest that everyone should be subject to the rule of law, how many of us are ready to contest that failing to prosecute criminal wrongdoing, particularly that committed by former presidents, prime ministers, ministers and even high-ranking public officials, not only puts such former leaders and public officials above the law but encourages their successors to behave likewise?

Many countries boast strong credentials and ensure that equality before the law and the rule of law are scrupulously upheld. Malta, however, presents a picture in stark contrast.

Malta’s corruption is at the heart of the government. One former prime minister directed one of the most morally bankrupt cabinets in Maltese history into approving spectacularly corrupt deals. He corrupted institutions and dismantled the checks and balances that were designed to facilitate good governance. Worst of all, on his watch, Castille engineered a culture of impunity that spread to all State institutions, according to the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

And how can we ignore the FIAU report that concluded that police action was (and still is) necessary against former minister Konrad Mizzi after providing detailed evidence of alleged corruption and money laundering?

It would be no justification at all to argue that their reluctance to act might have come down mainly to the fear that prosecution would destabilise and divide even further an already polarised country.

The undeniable fact remains, though, that, in light of this state of affairs, we can hardly boast of any irrefutable credentials that, in this small country of ours, everyone is equal before the law and that no glaring distinction is made as to who has to shoulder responsibility and face justice.

Strong democracies are usually competent enough and the judicial system independent enough to prosecute politicians who misbehave, including top leaders.

Of course, for any investigation and prosecution to be initiated, the police commissioner and the attorney general have to do their duty

Mark Said LL.D – Msida