The Malta Independent 17 June 2024, Monday
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Cremation services in Malta set to be regulated by May - Fearne

Giulia Magri Thursday, 21 February 2019, 11:42 Last update: about 6 years ago

Malta is one of the few European countries which do not provide cremation services, not because there is no demand but as there are no regulations or legalisation for this, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health Chris Fearne.

Speaking at the launch of the public consultation document on cremation services, Fearne said that Maltese law as it is now only allows burial in designated cemeteries and an alternative to that is burial at sea. He said that “in a year we have around 400 cases of people requesting to be buried at sea.”

Fearne said that in 2015 the Cemeteries Policy and Design Guidance was drafted and approved by numerous representatives from the Planning Authority, Environment and Resources Authority and the Environmental Health Directorate and Superintendent of Cultural Heritage.    

He said that the consultation document presents a legal and regulatory framework for the public to understand the regulations of cremation. “We welcome the public to read the document and the provided questions which will help spark discussion on the topic. We look forward to hearing the public’s opinion.”

Fearne said that the consultation process will remain open until the end of March. He said that once all the comments and amendments from the consultation are collected, in April the Bill will be presented in Parliament for discussion.  “The plan is that the by May cremation services will be legalised,” Fearne said.

Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar said that the government is respecting the public’s wishes on what should happen to their bodies after their death.

She said that recent research shows that 30 per cent of the population prefer to be cremated rather than buried. She also highlighted numerous reasons why people may prefer cremation, be it culture, religious or environment reasons.

“Our island is limited in space and therefore the cremation act will be of benefit from an environmental point of view, as cremation techniques have a minimal impact on the environment. Cremation facilities do not require the same large amount of space which cemeteries need,” she said.

Cutajar added that in the past there were at least four planning applications for the setting up of a crematorium however none of this materialised due to the lack of legal framework.

She said that throughout the past few months she discussed the issue with numerous groups such as Humanists Malta and the Church. She stressed that the consultation phase is important as it gives the public the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns on the proposals and that the legislators will take all the formal opinions and observations from the public into consideration. 


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