Challenging the status quo
When looking back at the past five years, I cannot remember a day when our aim; mine and of course that of the numerous professionals who work within its structures, was not that of challenging the status quo for the betterment of our society. This past week was no exception.
This week, we discussed in Parliament a Bill relating to various subjects on laws concerning criminal procedures. Firstly, this draft law transposes the European Union’s directive into our Criminal Code which intends to strengthen aspects relating to the presumption of innocence.
The presumption of innocence is not a new concept to our laws, since it is also written in our constitution. However through the implementation of this directive we will be strengthening certain aspects of this crucial right in the criminal justice sphere. For instance, a new section will regulate what pubic officers should and should not say in order to safeguard this fundamental right. Also, another section will regulate how a person accused with a crime should be presented in Court.
The Bill also includes amendments to the 2015 Drug Dependency Act (treatment not imprisonment) which further open the door to people with drug dependence to be given a second chance. So far, there are around 25 people who have successfully pleaded in front of the Court of Magistrates to be given a second chance and if they undertake the directions of the Drug Rehabilitation Board, the Court would then be in a position to give a judgment which does not impose a prison sentence. With this amendment we will open the door further for people who were victim of the habit at the time they were arraigned to Court, but kicked the habit afterwards. Now they will too be able to plead the Court of Magistrates to give them a second chance.
Since 2015 there has already been a case where the Court of Magistrates decided to give a judgment which was not one of effective prison term and this following a positive advice of the Drug Rehabilitation Board. I hope that as more time passes, more people will benefit from this law and have a fresh start in their lives.
Finally, the Bill also solves the issue arisen on whether the Court can convert itself to a Drug Court when the case has reached the level of Appeal.
This week we also discussed a second bill relating to Justice – that regulating Notaries. Following very positive discussions with the Notarial Council, amendments were drawn up to cover gaps in our laws and to increase accountability and scrutiny on Notaries Public. Also, the amendments will solve two pressing issues which needed a legislative intervention – first the issue relating to the granting of a separate legal personality to the Notarial Council. Secondly the issue of whether Notaries which were engaged with the Government Property Division can do the same function with the new Lands Authority. Now those two issues have been ironed out.
The Royal Concertgebouw
On the culture side, a couple of days ago we announced that The Royal Concertgebouw, a prestigious international orchestra, which is widely considered to be among the top five in the world will be performing at Teatru Manoel on Sunday 1st of July as part of this year’s Malta International Arts Festival. This unique concert conducted by Director Daniele Gatti, who was described by the New York Times as a ‘Creative Risk-Taker’, is a collaboration between Festivals Malta, the Valletta 2018 Foundation and Teatru Manoel.
A unique element of this project is the fact that members of the National Youth Orchestra will be given the opportunity to practice and play in a concert with renowned international musicians, giving talented young musicians the opportunity to refine their skills; a clear example of the ever-growing legacy which 2018 is conveying.
Since we always strive to grow our culture calendar, this week we also announced that on the 28th and 30th of June, Teatru Manoel will be presenting the opera Cendrillon (Cinderella) making it the third opera on this year’s programme. Composed by the Maltese-born Nicolò Isouard in Paris back in 1810, this production provides a refreshing twist as it will be set in the sixties. This opera sees the Maltese-born soprano Claire Debono playing the part of Cendrillon. This opera also highlights the importance of active synergies with the private sector since it is co-sponsored by an international consortium which truly believes in Malta’s culture potential.
Our commitment is to keep on fostering such initiatives and synergies to bring to our shores more performances of the highest standard, that enrich our cultural calendar and place Malta on the international map of cultural tourism.