The Malta Independent 5 December 2023, Tuesday
View E-Paper

Those who don’t observe the law ‘must understand that they will pay a heavy price’ – Abela

Sunday, 29 January 2023, 13:01 Last update: about 11 months ago

Government's central message must remain in favour of security, and those who fail to adhere to the law must clearly understand that they will pay a heavy price for not keeping order in the country, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Sunday.

Addressing a political activity, Abela spoke about justice and the courts.

Abela spoke of the recent appointment of four new members of the judiciary, meaning that Malta has the highest number of judges and magistrates it has ever had. The reason for this investment, he said, is that people have the right to insist on effective justice while in court, which includes justice without undue delays.


He also spoke about European Commission President Ursula von Der Leyen praising the country's reforms. He said that the justice reforms were one of the positive things she mentioned, as was industrial innovation, waste management, the fight against corruption.

Abela also said he has been attacked the past days over statements he had made, when he argued that the time has come for the courts to review their sentencing policy and the kind of punishments they give when finding someone guilty of a crime.

He said that when the courts find someone guilty, there are a range of punishments it can dish out. He said that there are two scopes for a punishment, deterrent and reform. He feels that the deterrent aspect, that a clear message is sent to those found guilty and society, "that it doesn't benefit to break the law, that message in a number of sentences might not have been emphasized enough."

He said that he had the occasion to speak to a magistrate, who told him that the legal framework permits them to give low or high punishments. But, the magistrate said that when they give a high punishment, even though the law allows it, they appeal and the chances are that the Court of Appeal would reduce the punishment as there are policies or past judgements that militate that punishments not be that high."

"When I spoke about revising the sentencing policy, that it is not the moment to remain anchored to the teachings of the courts of the past, they screamed so much, saying that I am attacking the courts," he said in reference to the opposition.

He questioned why, when he is “sending this clear message in favour of security in the country to those who don't know what it means to respect the law, why the opposition come out so strongly against this message. You understand why, as there are opposition members who at 9am wearing the hat of criminal defence lawyers, going in front of the court speaking  so that the courts reduce punishments and liberate criminals, and at 4pm go to parliament and say leave everything as it is," he said, describing it as a conflict of interest.

Abela later in the activity spoke about investors and why they choose to invest in Malta. They do so, he said, as Malta provides peace of mind. He said that in a major conference a few months ago, investors mentioned the tranquil social environment as a main reason for their choice to invest in Malta.

He said that this social environment must be preserved and strengthened. When that tranquil society is shaken, he said, "by an act that does not reflect the values that society represents," then one is taken over by a sense of anger.

Abela said that one "needs to be cold-blooded not to worry for your children when seeing an incident like what happened in Valletta in the past days."

He said that he took a sigh of relief soon after, "when the forces of order acted efficiently, brought the (alleged) aggressors before the court. The court understood the important message it had to send. It understood that this is not only a case that left victims as a consequence of the incident," but shocked society in general, he said. "It is that message I want to see our institutions continue to send clearly. A single message, that all institutions pull the same rope in favour of citizens, in favour of order, in favour of having a strong sense of security in our country."

Abela said that he understands that there will be challenges in this sector, like in every other country, "but that is why there is the strategic government direction, that we continue to invest strongly in the forces of order."

Abela said that the government had made unprecedented investment, and will continue to do so.

"Where we need to continue making changes in these sectors, we will continue making them, continue investing more, but the central message must remain strong, in favour of security in the country, in favour of all those who observe law and order, and those who don't must clearly understand that they will pay a heavy price for not keeping order in society."

To achieve this, he said, "we need to strengthen the culture of respect."


  • don't miss