In a letter addressed to Mr Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta, published today, the Commissioner urges the government to ensure that the Bill on gender-based and domestic violence and additional measures giving effect to the bill effectively address gender inequality and violence against women. “The Bill should provide adequate remedies for the victims and effective sanctions against offenders”, he writes. The authorities should also ensure that the recently launched Domestic Violence Strategy and Action Plan lift obstacles to the implementation of the legislative framework, such as the inadequate reporting of domestic violence, the lack of social support and the need for systematic training for law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges dealing with domestic violence. The Commissioner also urges the government to allocate more financial resources to social care provided to victims of domestic violence and to address the shortage of places in women’s shelters.
Lastly, the Commissioner reiterates his call for an open and informed public debate on women’s access to abortion care. “The current very restrictive legislation criminalising abortion jeopardises women’s rights. The authorities should decriminalise abortion and facilitate access to safe and legal abortion care on a woman’s request”, writes Commissioner Muižnieks.