Outgoing Children's Commissioner Carmen Zammit stressed today that legislation needs to be tightened up to prohibit all smacking of children.

Reviewing the work of her office at the end of her term, Mrs Zammit said Maltese law still allowed "reasonable chastisement" to take place in the home, but there was no clear demarcation line between physical abuse and merely restraining the child, and such a loophole was being abusively exploited.

Mrs Zammit also reiterated her calls for a sex offenders' list to be drawn up as soon as possible, so that society could afford better protection to children. While some work had been done in this direction, more was needed.

Mrs Zammit said there was no doubt that the Maltese loved their children, but changes were needed in the way they treated them. "Children have a lot to contribute, but they are not being given the space to do so," she said.

At the Family Court, more progress was also needed for children to be heard. Children in such delicate and traumatic cases needed to be professionally assisted, she said, but resources were still very lacking in this regard.

The commissioner welcomed progress made on child fostering, but said that fostering might not be ideal for some children. Society needed to explore more ways to assist children when they could not live in the home of their natural parents.

Ms Zammit said a person had been nominated to succeed her but she would stay on until the appointment was made.

Informed sources said Mrs Zammit is expected to be succeeded by former Parliamentary Secretary Helen D'Amato.