A Maltese foundation aimed at safeguarding children and young people from harm has called on the removal of time-barring in sexual abuse cases involving children.
The Lisa Maria Foundation called on the island to follow in the steps of countries like England, Canada and Australia to remove time-barring on such crimes. Time-barring refers to a claim being stopped in court due to it being filed too late according to some procedural rule.
It can often lead to horrific consequences for victims of abuse, who first suffer at the hands of their abuser then, after finally working up the courage to speak out about their abuse, find out that a certain amount of time has passed making it near impossible for them to seek justice.
Foundation members Winston Zahra and Joe Borg met Family Minister Michael Falzon to emphasise on how important removing this mechanism was.
“Victims of sexual abuse, especially children, need to come to terms with the childhood they had been robbed off and that all safeguards necessary should be in place to support victims to speak up,” Zahra said in the meeting.
“The criminal justice system should be more child-focused.”
Minister Falzon agreed with the foundation’s sentiment, saying that the law relating to time-barring in sex abuse cases where children are involved “needs changing” so that the time-
barring concept is not abused, to the detriment of the victim and in favour of the offender.
The foundation welcomed the minister’s willingness to support the initiative and enact in further protections to ensure that abusers will have to face the consequences of their actions no matter how long ago such abuse would have taken place.
Beyond the time-barring issue, they also discussed amending a law related to the Sex Offenders Register, which the foundation described as “too onerous and cumbersome for most
stakeholders to utilise on their due diligence before employment”.