Draft Law Presented To Strengthen Rule Of Law & Citizen Rights

Draft Law Presented To Strengthen Rule Of Law & Citizen Rights
Nov 21 2023 Share

Today, the Minister for Justice Karol Aquilina, together with the Law Students’ Association (GħSL), presented a Draft Law that will reform and consolidate Maltese legislation on judicial review of administrative, legislative, and judicial acts.

This Draft Law will:

  • Update and clarify the law.
  • Provide citizens with more rights and greater protection against the abuse of power.
  • Hold the Government and authorities more accountable and responsible towards citizens.
  • Strengthen the role of the Courts in delivering justice.
  • Enhance the role of the Ombudsman.
  • Strengthen the rule of law in our country.

Minister for Justice Karol Aquilina and GħSL President Andrew Drago explained that the Draft Law will bring about several significant changes in Maltese legislation, including:

  • Sufficient interest, rather than strict legal standing, will be required for a person to bring a case (in the case of administrative and judicial acts).
  • The Draft Law will set a time limit of two years for initiating a judicial review of legislative acts (e.g., challenging the validity of Legal Notices).
  • Instead of six months, a person will have two years to bring a judicial review case.
  • The two-year time limit will also apply to decisions taken by the Attorney General (currently limited to one month).
  • If a person has a case before the Ombudsman, the two-year time limit will be suspended until the Ombudsman decides on the case.
  • A broader definition of a public authority will be introduced to include the Armed Forces of Malta and any other body performing a public function.

Karol Aquilina expressed gratitude to GħSL for their initiative and expressed confidence that there will be more opportunities for cooperation between the Parliamentary Group of the Nationalist Party and GħSL in the future.

Present at the presentation of the Draft Law were also the Whip of the Parliamentary Group, Robert Cutajar, and the Vice President of GħSL, Laura Chetcuti Dimech.


Local Pro-Choice Doctor First Maltese On BBC’s 100 Influential Women List

Local Pro-Choice Doctor First Maltese On BBC's 100 Influential Women List
Nov 21 2023 Share

Natalie Psaila, a family medicine specialist and co-founder of a pro-choice NGO, has achieved the distinction of being the first Maltese woman featured on the BBC’s list of the 100 most inspirational and influential women worldwide in 2023.

Released on Tuesday, the BBC’s list includes renowned figures like former US First Lady Michelle Obama, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, and feminist leader Gloria Steinem. 

Among the diverse lineup are individuals such as writer Alice Oseman and Justina Miles, a deaf performer who signed the lyrics to Rihanna’s 2023 Super Bowl performance.

Compiled by the BBC 100 Women team, the list recognizes women who have made headlines, possess inspiring stories, achieved significant milestones, or influenced their societies in impactful but often overlooked ways.

Psaila, co-founder of Doctors for Choice Malta, has been a vocal advocate for decriminalizing and legislating abortion in Malta, along with promoting better access to contraception. 

As one of the founders of a helpline assisting pregnant women in discussing abortion options, Psaila has actively worked to address reproductive health challenges. Additionally, she authored a sex education book, “My Body’s Fantastic Journey,” targeting 10 to 13-year-olds, aiming to enhance reproductive health knowledge in Malta. Find the list here.


Impact Of Loneliness As Bad As Smoking 15 Cigarettes Daily

Impact Of Loneliness As Bad As Smoking 15 Cigarettes Daily
Nov 21 2023 Share

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared loneliness a global health priority, unveiling the Commission on Social Connection. The health impact of loneliness has been compared, by one study, to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. 

Recent global initiatives against loneliness include New York appointing Dr. Ruth Westheimer as its first loneliness ambassador and Dr. Murthy outlining a framework to address loneliness. 

Research indicates a link between certain social connections and mental health, with social disconnection becoming a key driver of the global mental health crisis affecting roughly a billion people.

Loneliness not only affects mental health but also correlates with poor physical health, increasing the risk of early death, cardiovascular problems, stroke, cognitive decline, and dementia. 

A survey across 142 countries reported that nearly 1 in 4 adults felt lonely, highlighting that loneliness extends beyond older age groups. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated feelings of loneliness, particularly among younger individuals, impacting depression and anxiety symptoms.

Over the next three years, co-chaired by African Union Youth Envoy Chido Mpemba and US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, the commission will tackle the pervasive health threat of global loneliness. 

Dr. Ryan Patel, a psychiatrist studying social connectedness, notes that the pandemic’s isolation hindered normal social interactions, especially among young people. Hyperconnectivity among the youth has inadvertently narrowed perspectives, making interactions challenging and contributing to loneliness. 

The WHO committee aims to provide evidence and actionable solutions, addressing the complex relationship between loneliness and health outcomes worldwide.


NGOs Ready To Challenge Ġgantija Construction Permit

NGOs Ready To Challenge Ġgantija Construction Permit
Nov 21 2023 Share

Two Gozitan environmental NGOs, along with Din L-Art Ħelwa, have revealed their intention to challenge the recently granted permit for constructing an apartment block near Gozo’s Ġgantija Temples. The project, they cautioned on Tuesday, poses a severe threat to the integrity of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and its designated buffer zone.

The Ġgantija Temples are a significant historical landmark in Malta, and the surrounding UNESCO-established buffer zone is crucial for preserving their cultural and environmental importance, as stated by Din L-Art Ħelwa Għawdex, Għawdix, and Wirt Għawdex.

Asserting that sites of global importance are not for sale and should be protected for future generations, the NGOs criticized local developers, governmental authorities, and politicians, emphasizing the responsibility to shield such sites.

They declared their intention to file a permit revocation request based on flaws in the approval procedure and the presence of errors and incorrect information leading to the permit’s issuance.

Expressing satisfaction with recent strong statements from Heritage Malta and a ‘revised opinion’ from the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage, the NGOs called on the government and the Planning Authority to fulfill their duty to the nation and the civilized world by halting the environmental damage being inflicted upon the country.

Times of Malta reported that the Superintendence plans to request the Planning Authority to freeze the contentious permit, and Heritage Malta announced its intention to strongly appeal the decision.