Parliament has granted approval for two legislative measures concerning arrest and detention, as well as the restructuring of procedures related to the proceeds of crime.
The legislation pertaining to arrest and detention enables the apprehension of individuals reasonably suspected of committing serious crimes carrying a penalty of 12 years imprisonment or more. The Magistrate is empowered to extend the detention by a maximum of 48 hours through an order. This law necessitated constitutional amendments.
According to Minister Jonathan Attard, the law aims to provide the police with more effective tools in cases requiring prolonged detention of individuals suspected of serious crimes. The applicability of this law is emphasized to be an exception rather than a rule. Minister Attard highlighted its alignment with global efforts to address evolving complex crimes.
Additionally, Parliament has endorsed an act amending various laws concerning the proceeds of crime. This bill seeks to establish a standardized procedure for attaching, freezing, and confiscating criminal proceeds while ensuring proportionality in line with the requests from Maltese and European Courts.
The parliamentary process, particularly during the Committee stage, resulted in strengthening the bill to achieve a fair balance between the public interest in issuing such orders and the rights of the suspected, accused, or charged individuals to avoid financial ruin without a guilty verdict.
These amendments do not lead to the dismissal of any crime or the mitigation of penalties. The existing procedure for crimes related to drugs, carrying a maximum life imprisonment sentence, remains unchanged.
Key provisions include the obligation to identify properties and specific assets subject to Seizure and Freezing Orders, empowering the Court to modify such orders at the Defendant’s or Prosecutor’s request. The legislation introduces the possibility of increasing the amount released to the accused for sustenance during the case’s pendency. The Criminal Court, post-guilt determination, will decide on the value and assets for confiscation.
Minister Jonathan Attard emphasized the commitment to creating a society where everyone is held accountable for their actions while ensuring that laws respect fundamental rights and require an objective justification for implemented measures. These legislations play a crucial role in advancing the efficiency of justice and the fight against crime.