Malta

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Persistent violations
  • Discrimination against children based on the marital status of their parents[1]
  • Low age of criminal liability[2]
  • Treatment of 16 and 17-year-olds as adults in criminal proceedings[3]
  • Corporal punishment[4]
  • Criminalisation of abortion[5]
  • Inadequate sexual and reproductive health care for children[6]
  • Inappropriate treatment of migrant and asylum-seeking children, particularly use of and conditions in detention[7]
  • Trafficking of children[8]
  • Abuse and ill-treatment of children[9]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Working Group on arbitrary detention, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Working Group on arbitrary detention
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Universal Periodic Review
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child< UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination agaisnt Women
  6. UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child OPAC, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Working Group on arbitrary detention, Universal Periodic Review
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review



Introduction

A mediterranean nation spread across three main islands, Malta is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. With regular elections to two chambers, a largely symbolic presidential head of state and the main business of government handled by the prime minister, Malta operates as a parliamentary democratic republic. The overriding human rights concerns around Malta nearly all relate to its treatment of refugees and migrants, which has been greatly criticised.


Geography

Located in the centre of the Mediterranean, Malta is an archipelago nation, the three inhabited islands of which are Malta, Gozo and Comino. The capital city is Valetta.

Population and language

Almost 420,000 people live in Malta, placing the country among the world's most populous. The vast majority of the population profess the Roman Catholic faith, which is the state religion. Maltese and English are both widely spoken.

History and politics

Malta's history can be traced back more than five millennia and its temples, dating from between 4000 and 2400BC, are among the oldest free-standing structures on Earth. Throughout their history, the islands have successively come under the control of the Phoenicians, the Romans and, during the 9th and 10th centuries, they came under Arab control. Following the Napoleonic wars, the British colonised the islands and maintained control until the 1960s.

The country gained its independence in 1964, and initially sought a pro-British foreign policy, before turning to forging links with China, the USSR, North Korea and Libya during the 1970s and 1980s. When the centre-right nationalist Party came to power in 1987, the country again became more European focussed, and finally joined the European Union in 2004.[1]

The Maltese political system is dominated by two major political parties, the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party. The Nationalist Party has formed three successive governments since 1998, and is currently led by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi. However, in 2009 for the first time in Maltese history a President, George Abela, was elected from the opposition party. Elections are next due to be held in March 2013.[2]

Economy

Tourism is Malta's largest industry, though electronics, financial services, light manufacturing and pharmaceuticals all make substantial contributions to the national economy. The global economic crisis of 2008 has seriously affected the national economy, which re-entered recession in early 2012,[3] but the islands have generally suffered less from the crisis than other European countries.[4] The banking sector generally operated a low risk lending strategy with limited international exposure, and placed Malta in a better position to weather the Eurozone crisis. The country became a member of the European Union in 2004 and became a member of the Eurozone in 2008.[5]

Media and civil society

Malta has constitutional protections for free speech and freedom of the press, but there are a number of provisions in Maltese law that restrict these freedoms. Freedom House has reported that laws on “vilification” or “giving offence” to the Roman Catholic faith curtail free speech, and that in the first 6 months of 2011 there were 119 convictions for public blasphemy. Defamation and obscene speech, acts and gestures are all criminal offences. Malta is also one of only three EU member states without an operational freedom of information law.

The country does, however, have a vibrant and independent media sector including a number of daily and weekly newspapers in English and Maltese, though political parties, private businesses and the Catholic church all have investments in broadcast and print media, which often express partisan views. There is only one national TV broadcaster, but Italian TV is readily available across the islands.[6]

Reporters Without Borders rated the country 58 out of 179 in its Press Freedom Index of 2011/12.[7]

Human rights and children's rights

Malta has been widely criticised by international human rights mechanisms and non-governmental organisations for its treatment of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. In 2010, the working group on arbitrary detention noted that “migrants in irregular situation[s were] subjected to mandatory detention without genuine recourse to a court of law”,[8] a policy which the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has described as “irreconcilable with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the case-law of the Strasbourg Court”.[9]

  1. European Union, "Malta profile"
  2. BBC, "Malta government falls after PM Gonzi loses majority" 10 December 2012
  3. The Times of Malta, "Malta in recession" 9 June 2012
  4. See BBC, "In graphics: Eurozone crisis" 27 September 2012
  5. Reuters, "Malta joins euro zone" 1 January 2008
  6. Freedom House, "Freedom of the Press 2012: Malta"
  7. Reporters Without Borders, "Press Freedom Index 2011/12"
  8. CRIN, "Malta: Children's rights in the UN Special Procedures' reports" 28 January 2013
  9. Thomas Hammarberg, "Report by Thomas Hamamrbery, Commissioner for Human Rights for the Council of Europe following his visit to Malta from 23 to 25 March 2011" CommDH(2011)17

Sources:


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