The Malta Independent 24 September 2020, Thursday

Locked up

Rachel Borg Saturday, 12 September 2020, 07:39 Last update: about 12 days ago

This week we have seen the terrible effects that incarceration, not properly administered, can bring.  Utter devastation on human and animal life.

In one case, that of the locked up dogs that attacked the grandmother, as she entered into her grandson’s flat, though having been told not to do so.   Already that tells you that a danger exists, or a threat to life.  She was attacked and mauled to death, also her little chihuahua, by the dog or dogs held in the flat. 


This event led to the discovery of the breeding of pit bulls taking place on the roof of this flat, allegedly without a licence.

Focus has fallen not just on to the owner of the dogs but mainly on to the Animal Welfare unit.  Neighbours had reported their concern for themselves and their environment, but especially for the dogs, which are said to number at least 10.   They were held in really primitive conditions.  They may have had food, water and some rudimentary shelter but there was an all important element that they were clearly deprived of and that would be human and humane contact. 

It is being alleged that Animal Welfare did inspect the premises where the dogs were being kept and did not find the need to issue a protection order and remove them from there. 

Last week, the public had once again alerted the authority to inspect a site where 4 Doberman dogs were being held in unsanitary and harmful conditions.  Also in this case the Animal Welfare issued a positive report saying that the conditions in which the dogs were being kept was safe and sanitary.  This in spite of other associations that look for the protection of animals, voicing serious concern about the health of the dogs. 

One must also always keep in mind that there could be a nuisance and disturbance to the neighbours by dogs that bark because their needs are not being met.  Dogs are social creatures and keeping them incarcerated or abandoned is very cruel and can cause them to become vicious when this may be avoided with responsible care and love.  If it happens that the dog has an aggressive nature, then it can be noticed and appropriate decisions taken.

But it is not the only death that could have been avoided.  Also this week we learnt of yet another death, allegedly by suicide, in the prison.  If this were a Netflix film, by now we would be tense, angry and afraid as the prison warden allowed the danger or even instigated the possibility for it to happen, whether by suicide or murder, and wondering how the law could be so broken and actually approved and power given to those whose job it is to prevent such crimes or tragic events. 

This is the 10th inmate to have died whilst resident at the Corradino Correctional Facility.  The facility has a duty to protect the inmates and ensure that their prison sentence will provide them with some better resources once they are free to rejoin society on the outside.  Even if they are still awaiting their trial or court case, they are again entitled to their rights. 

We wonder what harsh and penalistic environment is leading to so many ill-timed deaths. 

On another part of the island another form of incarceration is taking place at Hal Far detention centre.  The length of time that the persons there have been held locked up is leading them to despair and they tried to communicate their plight by making a phone video and sharing it.  When matters escalate and violence may follow, then even more forceful methods will be used to quell the protest.  Nothing would have been done to listen and examine the case of the detainees and provide help.

All of the three realities described above have had victims. 

Apart, though, from the actual victims, as the lady who was killed, the man who allegedly committed suicide and the detainees in the detention centre, the whole of society is a victim.

The detachment between government agencies and society is unbelievable.  All the while we have to endure and process more violence, more harm, more empathy and we ourselves become victims of a state that lives in complete detachment and consciously ignores the suffering around. 

The mood becomes tense, divisive, frustrated, vengeful and in the case of the dogs, ferocious without it being their fault. 

It is not enough to parade the alleged killers of the two victims in the Sliema murder.  This is just one investigation out of many, many others which need to be conducted and brought to justice.

People are not stupid.  The Animal Welfare unit has come up in cases quite frequently of late and it is natural to suspect that something is not as it should be there.  Let’s face it, in Malta, even bombers are warned by those who job it should be to catch and process criminals, that an arrest is about to be carried out.  So, it is not too much of a stretch of the imagination to suspect that either bribery or some other tit for tat is taking place in the inspections by AW, with warnings of inspections and positive reports being the result.

We had members of the police force who covered for the building contractors when the public called to report them.  We had traffic police with a rather different operation than that they were being paid for. 

Is there nothing in Malta which is run correctly, in accordance with policy and public interest?

The larger public is again, in the case of the Electrogas heist, a victim of the unregulated transfer of excise tax from a private company to a public entity, without even seeking the approval of Parliament. 

A private company, whose purpose it is to produce gas power, purchases that gas but refuses to pay the tax on it.  So, it is passed on to the consumer, when we had been told that the very reason for the new LNG gas power station was to give a better rate to consumers.  Well, it would be much easier for businesses to make a profit if this were the case in other corporations and small businesses. 

The frailty of our governing system is evident and is costing lives, ruining the economy, covering crimes and leading to gross injustice.  

Those who see otherwise are part of the problem.  It is time for elected politicians to investigate every facet of their job and responsibilities and inject some truth, dignity and clear action to change their attitude and indifference to suffering and victims, individual and social. 

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