Downplaying the indefensible

    Ian Borg
    Ritratt: Luke Zerafa

    ‘Tis the season to be jolly – though there is nothing to be jolly about if you are an inmate at Corradino Correctional Facility or a property owner with mental illness in this country.

    You know, I often start the week thinking that this week I will write about something fun and nice; something that isn’t about politics or about the unbelievable occurrences that have become our daily reality. But, honestly, how can I do that when every other day another person in high public office screws up?

    There were two stories that left me completely speechless over the past seven days: the first was about Ian Borg’s acquisition of a 655 square-metre plot of land for €10,000 from someone battling mental illness; the second was about the infamous chair at Corradino Correctional Facility. And I am totally in shock at how downplayed they have been and how very few ripples they have caused, especially since both should have had the force of an atomic bomb.

    In an article by The Malta Independent in 2015, the children of a man who had long battled mental illness alleged that their father had been coerced into underselling a plot of land in a rushed contract that took just 24 hours to conclude. While some of the claims have been thrown out by the court over lack of evidence, the court did say that Borg’s testimony was not credible.

    And how are we okay with that? How can we trust a Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects who is not credible in the court’s eyes?

    Last time I checked, we had not regressed to being animals but I’m really starting to doubt that.

    People in such offices have a responsibility to always and without exception conduct themselves in a way that befits their position, and being called out by a court of law should shatter any illusions we may have of the person. Then again, people seem to be okay with having Owen Bonnici in office even though during his stint as Minister for Justice he was found guilty by the Constitutional Court to have breached human rights.

    And speaking of human rights, what about the now infamous chair that has allegedly been used to punish prisoners at Corradino Correctional Facility? Sure, the minister denied its existence 48 hours after the article on Illum ran, but he also went on to say that one inmate was actually tied up to a chair on the orders of a doctor because he posed a threat to other inmates and the staff. This happened well before Byron Camilleri’s time as Home Affairs minister, but he is there now and given that there have been multiple deaths at Corradino over the past few years, such claims – be they true or not – should not be taken lightly.

    Last time I checked, we had not regressed to being animals but I’m really starting to doubt that. Slash that, not even animals treat their own like that but here we are, with such stories barely cause a stir on this island.

    How can people see institutions such as our Courts of Law and our prison as being effective when we ignore what they say or what happens within them? People in power really need to realise that this isn’t only about them, but about the positions they hold. Not resigning after the court says your testimony lacks credibility is saying that you do not deem it important enough to matter. Waiting for 48 hours before you say ‘Nah, it doesn’t exist, but a chair was used once to restrain someone,’ is by far not enough.

    So, please, don’t let such stories be buried before they are given the chance to run their course. Ask questions that make these people uncomfortable and push for independent inquiries that either prove what is being alleged is true or that it was fabricated. Either way, it is vital to learn the truth, not because of politics but because of what is right, what is just, and what is basic human decency.