More than 96% of domestic violence cases in Malta have failed to result in convictions, new worrying figures have revealed.
Following a parliamentary question from MP Godfrey Farrugia, Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis revealed that only 42 of the 989 cases since 2017 have actually resulted in a guilty verdict. Around 85 people have been found not guilty.
What is concerning is the abnormally high number of proceedings which have been “exhausted”. Around 802 of the 989 domestic violence cases have been “exhausted”, that’s roughly 81% of the total.
A case can be exhausted for a number of reasons, including victims who refuse to testify against their alleged abuser or those who withdraw their initial criminal complaint.
Such instances have yielded fatal results. Chantelle Chetcuti, who was murdered by her ex-partner earlier in the year, had initially dropped domestic violence charges against him in 2013.
Time-barring of cases is also having an effect with 24 cases falling under prescription. Time-barring prevents victims from reporting a crime to the police after a certain period and can prove devastating to victims who finally have the courage to come forward.
Domestic violence is an issue that continuously plagues the country. Malta’s new specialised Domestic Violence Unit receives about five reports per day. However, out of a total of 63 reports, only eight investigations have been formally opened.
Newly-appointed Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa has pledged to transform how police tackle domestic violence. If figures are anything to go by, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.
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