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Cyber-stalking and bullying law could issue five year prison sentence

Cyber-stalking and bullying law could issue five year prison sentence
Feb 10 2022 Share

A bill which has started the process of debate in parliament on Wednesday involves making cyberstalking and cyberbullying specific offences in the Criminal Code. 

The bill, which is piloted by Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, provides that it shall be a crime for anyone, with the intention of causing fear or harm, to; 

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Stalk another person through the use of a computer or electronic communications device; to cause unauthorised computer function in a computer owned or used by another person and; to trace another person’s use of the internet or other electronic communication. 

Those found guilty of such offences would be liable to a prison term between one and five years and/or a fine not exceeding €30,000. The punishment will be increased by one degree when the crime is committed against an underage person or a vulnerable person.

This is also applicable if the offence is committed by two or more persons working together. Introducing the bill, Minister Zammit Lewis said that despite people having the right to express themselves on the internet, criminal sanctions were needed against cyberstalking and cyberbullying because of the negative impact they had on people, leading even to self-harm or suicide. 

He went on to present the provisions of the bill, explaining that the crimes can be caused through threats, intimidation, abuse or offensive words directed at the victim through the use of a computer or other electronic communication device. 

When it comes to cyberstalking, the accused will be able to argue in court that they did so without malicious intent in the normal course of a lawful business or for the purpose of engaging in discussion or communication with respect to public affairs. The latter provision would protect journalists from such charges.

On cyberbullying, the crime would apply when the accused ought to have known that his actions would cause fear or harm to another person. This follows a 2017 plea by then President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca who said that the fight against such crimes should not only include strengthening existing legislation but enacting a specific law. 

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Photo Source: Edward Zammit Lewis

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Half of Maltese think politicians are corrupt reveals survey

Half of Maltese think politicians are corrupt reveals survey
Feb 10 2022 Share

According to a new survey by the University of Malta, half of the population of the island thinks that the country’s elected politicians are corrupt, with only 15% disagreeing. 

Carried out in January by the Faculty of Social Wellbeing, a sample of 600 people were asked about governance and the fight against corruption. 

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Respondents were asked to reply to the question ‘are politicians corrupt?’; and were asked to rank their answers on a scale from 1 to 5. 1 meant absolutely disagree, and 5 meant strongly agree. 

Slightly under 30% strongly agreed that elected politicians are corrupt, with 20% agreeing. Another 35% were classified as neutral whereas 6% disagreed. Only 9% absolutely disagreed. 

Young respondents and people with lower levels of education were the least to think politicians are corrupt – at an average of 3.1 and 3.3 respectively on the scale. Participants were also asked whether they would feel comfortable talking to a politician to get help or get referral services. 

30% strongly agreed or agreed with the practice, with 19% falling into the neutral category of the scale. 16% disagreed but the largest amount, 35%, totally disagreed. People with the highest level of education and income were the most uncomfortable with seeking services from politicians. 

On the other hand, participants who are currently inactive felt the most comfortable, with an average of 2.85 on the scale. The university survey found that the majority of respondents, 76%, consider the fight against corruption a very important matter, with only 5% considering it unimportant. 

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Half of over 60s who died of COVID were unvaccinated with booster

Half of over 60s who died of COVID were unvaccinated with booster
Feb 9 2022 Share

Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci revealed that almost half of all COVID-19 deaths among 60s this year were from the 5% of people in the same age group unvaccinated with the booster.

Figures are worse for over 60s who are completely unvaccinated, but they account for less than 1% of over 60s. One in every six (16%) deaths among this age group come from this cohort. Charmaine Gauci revealed the statistics in her Times of Malta column ‘Ask Charmaine’. 

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She went on to argue for the booster protection amongst older people. Further statistics show that around 95% of people aged 60 and older, around 120,000 people, have received a vaccine booster dose. 

This leaves just 5% of that age cohort, around 6,000 people, who are either not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all. The much smaller group of over 60s have been more disproportionately likely to die while infected with COVID-19 in 2022. Gauci noted that this accounts for 40% of deaths within that age group. 

Risk of death from the virus increases rapidly with age, and that rings true when looking at deaths related to COVID in Malta this year so far. More than 92% of those deaths have been people aged over 60. 

A WHO regional study published in November 2021 calculated that Malta’s widespread vaccine uptake among over 60s managed to avert around 860 deaths up to that point. This means COVID related deaths within that age group would have been 74% higher had there been no vaccine. 

Malta also has one of the world’s largest uptakes of COVID vaccines, with more than 77% of adults having received a booster dose of the jab on Wednesday. With the vaccine available for kids as young as five, the uptake among those younger, lower risk age groups groups is lower. 

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Malta has the lowest COVID-19 case rate in Europe

Malta has the lowest COVID-19 case rate in Europe
Feb 9 2022 Share

New EU data shows that Malta’s COVID-19 case rate is now the lowest in Europe, with the figure being the lowest ever since mid-December.Malta’s 14-day case rate, according to a weekly review by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), stands at 593.9 cases per 100,000 people. 

The rate stood at over 2,500 cases per 100,000 at the peak of January spike, which saw thousands of cases being detected daily. Malta’s latest rate is now the lowest in Europe, with the country with the second-lowest rate, Poland, detecting three times as many cases.Poland’s rate stood at 1,482.3 cases per 100,000 people, with the EU average also significantly higher at 3,604.5 cases per 100,000. 

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The drop in cases comes less than two months since Malta’s worsening COVID-19 situation was deemed the most worrying in Europe at the end of the year. This placed the island as very high concern with a score of nine out of 10. With the score dropping to 6.5, among the lowest in Europe, Malta’s COVID situation started to improve following days of record-breaking tallies at the end of the year and January. 

According to the ECDC, hospital admissions have stabilised while the number of those requiring admission to ITUs decreasing. Despite this, the death rate is still increasing and sands at 27.2 cases per one million. In the past 24 hours, 172 cases were registered, with Malta currently having 2097 active cases. 79 patients are currently being treated in hospital, 4 of whom are in the ITU. 

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