There are currently 118 convicted paedophiles on Malta’s sex offenders’ register, according to data made available to Times of Malta.

The register, administered by the court, includes 13 people who were added last year. It was the year when, along with 2021, the largest number of paedophiles were added to the list.

The Protection of Minors (Registration) Act came into force in 2012, under which names of people convicted of offences involving children started being listed on the register.

In the first year, nine paedophiles made it to the list, with another nine in 2013, 10 in 2014 and six in 2015. That number doubled to 12 in 2016, with 10 added in 2017 and eight in 2018.

Eleven people were added to the list in 2019 and another 10 in 2020. The year 2021 saw 13 added to the register and another seven in 2022.

Checking if someone features on the register is at the discretion of a judge. Since its inception, there have been just under 6,200 applications from people or organisations asking to access the register.

Educators, employers and organisations responsible for children’s well-being, who want to ensure that any member of staff who comes into contact with children in their care is not a predator, must file an application before the First Hall of the Civil Court through a lawyer. The application is also sent to the attorney general who has seven days to reply to the request.

The application and reply are seen by a judge who appoints a hearing at which the parties make oral submissions detailing the names of the person or people they want to check and the reason why.

The justice ministry was currently undergoing internal studies and research to strengthen the Protection of Minors Act and ancillary laws

If permission is granted, the judge orders the court registrar to check the register for the supplied name or names and informs the applicants of the outcome of the search. This process could take several weeks, allowing the possibility for someone who is in contact with children to abuse of his or her position to satisfy their sexual whims.

Through a legal amendment introduced in 2017, voluntary organisations can check the register to ensure none of their employees feature on it without having to pay a €500 access fee.

A spokesperson for the justice ministry told Times of Malta that the Court Services Agency did not hold data on how many of the applications to access the register were upheld or denied.

He added the ministry was currently undergoing internal studies and research to strengthen the Protection of Minors Act and ancillary laws.

Earlier this year, an art teacher convicted of sexually abusing a 12-year-old student was banned from the profession.

Carmel Agius, from Fgura, was jailed for groping at least one of his pupils during art lessons at school in 2018. He appealed the punishment but his appeal was thrown out and his two-year effective jail sentence was confirmed by a judge.

The 55-year-old then had his teaching warrant withdrawn by Education Minister Clifton Grima and his name was placed on the sex offenders register.

He was found guilty of sexually molesting the student who attended art lessons at his studio at the school where he worked when Agius stood behind her and started touching her inappropriately and pressing himself against her. 

Agius is facing separate criminal proceedings over more reports that the police received over incidents that took place at Agius Art Studio where he gave private lessons.

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