A spokesperson for the Ministry for Equality and European Affairs (MEAE), has told Newsbook.com.mt that there were ‘a few teething issues while enacting the Temporary Protection Order (TPO) mechanism.’
They explain that a consultative process had therefore been requested by the Judiciary and involved all of the relevant bodies interacting with the Human Rights and Integration Directorate within MEAE. This they say was designed to, ‘iron out any hitches following the transposition of the Istanbul Convention into national law last year.’
In turn, a set of amendments were presented, which they state ‘have the unanimous support’ of these organisations.
The comments from MEAE come as a judicial protest was issued to the Ministry by the Women’s Rights Foundation.
Amendments increase risk
Yesterday, the organisation expressed their concerns about the proposed amendments to the Temporary Protection Order, a special piece of legislation which is designed to protect female victims of domestic violence.
They said that the tabling of Bill-84 in the Parliament, presented amendments to the TPO, thus placing the burden of protection on the victim, that an investigation of the perpetrator would be up to police discretion or that the victim would have to actively pursue what actions had been taken.
‘This could lend victims to be at further risk, if they are not duly informed as to whether the temporary protection order is valid or otherwise. Victims could end up in a situation that they come face to face with their perpetrators given that the temporary protection order would no longer be valid, without their knowledge,’ WRF stated.
Malta signed and ratified the 2014 Istanbul Convention last year. The convention had been formed 4 years prior during Malta’s tenure of the EU presidency. The aim of the convention was to encourage member states to commite to the prevention and combating of violence against women.
Malta had instituted measures which included legislation classifying all forms of violence against women as violations of human rights. The action plan against Gender Based Violence and domestic violence was launched in November 2017.
Last January, a special two and a half year project consulting with numerous partners on the breaking the cycle of violence against women, was launched.
According to Equality Minster Helena Dalli, the campaign is not a ‘one size fits all’ effort and instead approaches each case differently.
The project is supported by an EU fund of €350,000 which will take the project up to June 2020. The purpose of the project is part focused on outreach and awareness with different groups in society to understand the causes behind why people remain in abusive relationships and to seek solutions.
Further investigation, fair hearing, protection
MEAE’s spokesperson told Newsbook.com.mt that the following amendments, ‘re-affirm the principles set out in the Istanbul Convention.’
– an additional investigation by the Police following the risk assessment to further mitigate vexatious or unwarranted claims for a TPO;
– the introduction of a 12 hr time-frame for the police to conduct a thorough investigation within which the accused is granted the chance to give his testimony, and an 8hr period for the duty Magistrate to deliver her or his decree, in full respect of the right to a fair hearing;
– the provision of safe accommodation for victims by Appoġġ whilst the investigation is ongoing;
– the introduction of an automatic 30 day period for the TPO which addresses the current uncertainty. The TPO may either be revoked before or extended beyond the 30 days, on a case by case basis.
The spokesperson adds that these amendments, will also be complemented by training sessions organised by the Centre for Violence Prevention from the University of Worcester, which will support over 700 professionals in the Malta Police Force, Appoġġ and others involved in cases of violence.