The magistrate’s Sunday sermon: yes to discipline, no to legal drugs

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Under most magistrates, arraignments tend to be a straightforward affair, but Joe Mifsud is not most magistrates.

The outspoken Mifsud is known to inject a degree of social commentary into his work, and his turn as duty magistrate on Sunday was no exception. Three men were arraigned under arrest, with Mifsud paying tribute to the prosecuting inspectors, who had to forego a Sunday lunch with their families to go to Court, as well as the journalists present.

A drugs case led the magistrate to declare his strong opposition to the legalisation of drugs, stating that proponents of legalisation “have no idea what they’re talking about” whilst recalling that the International Day Against Drug Abuse was observed last Friday.

He also reserved praise for the prison director, Col. Alex Dalli, for instilling a sense of discipline at the Corradino Correctional Facility, stating that he prayed for his wellbeing every morning.

“Discipline has never killed anyone. Drugs kill people,” Mifsud maintained.

Help drug users, punish pushers

Despite emphasising his opposition to the legalisation of drugs, Mifsud emphasised that people caught possessing drugs for their personal use should be helped first and foremost, and not jailed. The wrath of the courts should instead be levelled at those who profit off of such abuse.

“We must help those who face a problem, but we cannot surrender to those who line their pockets and keep the cemetery chapels busy,” the magistrate said.

He tied his opposition to drug legalisation to his anti-abortion beliefs, stating that as someone who believed in protecting life “from conception to death” he could not endorse allowing people to consume the “poison” of illicit drugs.

Caritas programme the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of drug treatments

Mifsud paid tribute to the various organisations which helped drug abuse victims, specifically mentioning Caritas, OASI, Sedqa as well as the Richmond Foundation.

But he reserved particular praise for Caritas, describing their residential drug rehab programme as the “Rolls-Royce” of treatments.

He remarked that people who had acquired a poor reputation over the years had entered such programmes and not only rid themselves of their drug addiction, but also transformed themselves into productive members of society.

These programmes, he added, instilled a certain sense of discipline, particularly with respect to time management. If their timetable demands that they have to wake up at 6:30am, that is when they have to wake up, he pointed out.

Mifsud then expressed his hope that these organisations’ efforts would not be dented by “the few that are putting a lot of pressure in favour of drug legalisation.”