There was no need to include the rights of the unborn in the Child Protection Act given that Maltese legislation already criminalises abortion and those who conduct them, Minister for the Family Michael Falzon told Lovin Malta.
“There’s no issue, the definition of minors already exists in international treaties that we follow, our law protects the unborn by making abortions illegal, their protection has remained,” he said.
The convention defines a child as any human being under the age of 18 but refrains from specifically mentioning the unborn.
Falzon was speaking following a press conference concerning the recently approved Child Protection Act that comes into force in December.
Providing a much-needed update to the rights protecting minors, the legislation will also see children in foster care be able to be formally adopted after three years.
Notable in the legislation is that children in foster care will now be able to be formally adopted after three years rather than five. Potential parents will now simply have to receive three positive annual reports before adopting the child.
Parents who lose their children to foster care will now be able to appeal the decision, which Falzon said would allow for further scrutiny. A Children’s House will also be set up, meaning children will have their own legal environment rather than the pressure that comes with a court appearance.
“This law prevents and safeguards rather than reacts,” Lawyer Andy Ellul explained.
The reforms will also make it mandatory for professionals working with children to report cases of abuse, while special guardians for especially vulnerable children will be appointed.
There will also be changes in how the Director for the Protection of Minors will be appointed – with this being done through a public call – and in the formation of several boards relating to this subject.