The Malta Independent 18 June 2024, Tuesday
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‘You assume responsibility by ensuring that you take the right decisions’ – Justice Minister

Sabrina Zammit Wednesday, 29 March 2023, 17:22 Last update: about 2 years ago

Responsibility is assumed by ensuring that the right decisions to address a situation are taken, Justice Minister Jonathan Attard said when asked about whether someone should shoulder responsibility for the system failings which contributed to Bernice Cassar’s murder.

“You assume responsibility by ensuring that you are taking the decisions which will lead to not only addressing the present situation but to also to prevent such situations from happening in the future,” he said.


The Malta Women’s Lobby has demanded action after an inquiry tasked with establishing whether the State failed murder victim Bernice Cassar concluded that “the State 'system' failed”, identifying a lack of resources and a heavy caseload as the primary reasons behind this failure.

Answering a question by The Malta Independent on whether someone should shoulder responsibility for these failings, Attard gave a run through of reforms that the government has implemented.

He said that judiciary members have been increased and that there has also been an increase in the number of judiciary sessions dealing with domestic violence cases.

Attard added that the necessary initiatives have also been taken to make sure that recommendations highlighted in this inquiry that are related with legislative reform will be implemented where necessary.

The question was posed following a press conference where the Labour Party – represented by Justice Minister Jonathan Attard and Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri – decried what they called renewed evidence of a division in the Nationalist Party’s ranks.  

“The internal split in the Opposition will lead to the fact that tonight a change in the Constitution that strengthens the fight against serious crimes cannot be passed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament,” Attard said.

The Bill in question – Bill 49 – was put forward by the government, and would allow the period a person can be held under arrest to increase from 48 hours to a maximum of 132 hours in cases where the arrested person is suspected of having committed a crime which could result in 12 years or more imprisonment.

During the press conference, Attard and Camilleri emphasised the importance of this legislation as a tool for investigators and the police to effectively combat crime.

However, the Labour MPs said that the Opposition has not reached a consensus on the proposed amendments to the Bill, and has requested that the parliamentary committee meeting on the matter be postponed.

This has caused frustration for the government, who have called on the Opposition to act more responsibly and work together to reach a resolution.

Nationalist Party MPs on Monday expressed concern at the proposal to increase the period a suspect of a crime can be arrested from two days up to five and a half days while speaking in Parliament, however the party indicated that it would vote in favour of the Bill at second reading stage.

Speaking at the news conference, Attard expressed disappointment with the Opposition's lack of cooperation, saying that "this country cannot remain hostage to a divided Opposition."

Meanwhile, Camilleri criticized the Opposition for being inconsistent and unclear on its position, calling for them to "be with us on the right side and not to leave the country hostage to the division within us."

Despite these challenges, the government remains committed to passing the Bill in the national interest, the ministers said.

They expressed hope that both sides can come together to find a mutually agreeable solution that will help to combat serious crime in Malta.

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