Authorities share NGOs’ concern on domestic violence surge

Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri confirmed that the government and the police force were concerned about a likely surge in domestic violence brought about by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as measures aiming to limit the transmission of the virus lead to people spending more time at home.

Speaking during question time in Parliament, Camilleri said that there had been 117 domestic violence reports in March, and a further 107 in April. The figures are largely in the same range as last year, when 1,325 domestic violence reports had been filed.

But the minister added that he was well aware that many cases would not be reported for various reasons, including fear.

In a reply to a parliamentary question by MP Claudette Buttigieg, Camilleri confirmed that the Commission on Gender-based Violence and Domestic Violence held an online meeting with NGOs working in the field on 21 April, to address the impact of the pandemic on their work. Another online meeting is scheduled in the coming days, involving the police and Aġenzija Appoġġ.

Buttigieg also asked Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis to comment on a Constitutional Court ruling which found that Malta failed to protect a domestic violence victim’s fundamental rights.

Though the minister acknowledged that a number of issues needed to be addressed, he also stressed that the police force had registered progress in the way it handled domestic violence reports. He also noted that the force was in the process of setting up a specialised section dealing with domestic violence.

“When this occurs, many of the points highlighted in the court sentence will be addressed,” the minister said.

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