Malta should consider a system that would allow the police to disclose information to women or men about their partner’s previous history of abuse, Rosianne Cutajar told parliament on Wednesday.
The Labour MP said Malta has made major steps forward to address domestic violence. But over 500 domestic violence reports were filed in the first four months of this year. While it was good that such cases had been reported, this also showed that more must be done, she said.
“We have a dedicated unit in the police corps, we provide free legal aid for domestic violence victims and we have a full-time domestic violence commissioner, but more is needed,” Cutajar said.
“Now is the time to explore the possibility of having a register of those people who have a history of abuse or domestic violence. People have the right to know if their partner has a history of abuse.”
Such a facility is already available in the UK - the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, better known as Clare’s Law. The law is so named after Clare Wood, a woman murdered in England by a former partner who police knew to be dangerous.
Clare’s Law enables the police to disclose information to a victim or potential victim of domestic abuse about their partner’s or ex-partner’s previous abusive or violent offending.
The law is intended to reduce intimate partner violence.
Confidence in the law courts
Cutajar also referred to how a woman who was kicked, punched and held captive for several hours saw her aggressor walk away without any effective consequences.
“The aggressor admitted his actions in court, but nothing was done. It is already very difficult for these people to come forward and report abuse, but when they read such stories, they lose all hope in our courts,” she said.
Cutajar said the people deserved a court that helped them, and not a system where cases dragged on for years.
She said a number of laws relating to the structure of the family were a "result of the past" and need a revamp.
She provided examples such as children's custody, and how more often than not, the mother is given full custody of the child.
"Parent's access to their child needs to be more balanced, such a balance will be beneficial for both the parents and the child," she said.
"We have made a lot of progress, but we must be realistic when it comes to the courts, we need more reforms and change."