MP Edwin Vassallo (left) shares a joke with PN leader Adrian Delia
Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia last night gave one of his MPs the green light to vote against a landmark bill intended to give more rights to victims of domestic violence and rape.
Opposition MP Edwin Vassallo was the only MP to vote against the bill, a decision based on its use of gender-neutral language, which the government had used so as to ensure everyone is covered by the new law. Vassallo said he had received Adrian Delia’s blessing to vote against the bill, which the PN leader confirmed through a tweet saying the PN was in favour of the domestic violence Bill but recognised Vassallo’s “ethical dilemma”.
This appear to be in line with Delia’s pledge to give his MPs free votes in Parliament on moral issues.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat described Vassallo’s argument as “mind-boggling”, while civil liberties minister Helena Dalli said she regretted that this Bill was not going to pass unanimously.
— Adrian Delia (@adriandeliapn) January 24, 2018
It is mind boggling how an opposition MP justifies his stand to vote against Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence Bill transposing the Istanbul Convention into #Malta laws. Proud of @helenadalli spearheading these reforms -JM
— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) January 24, 2018
The Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence Bill will see Malta get in line with the Istanbul Convention on Domestic Violence. The landmark law will link the legal definition of rape to the concept of consent and increase maximum jail terms for convicted rapists from six to twelve years. It will also allow courts to force perpetrators of domestic violence out of their family homes and charge them with moral damages for the damage they would have caused their victims. The courts will also be empowered to deny domestic violence perpetrators custody of their children in separation and divorce cases.
The Bill will also introduce the ‘Letter of Victims’ Rights’, which the police will have to provide to victims of domestic violence as soon as they file a report.