A foundation in memory of Lisa Maria Zahra, a teenager who was found murdered at the bottom of Dingli Cliffs in 2014, wants prescription in cases of child abuse, totally scrapped. 

Malta's criminal code is to be amended to give prosecutors an additional five years to identify and charge child molesters in court. 

The new amendments will see the statute of limitations for sexual crimes committed against minors start ticking from the moment the victim turns 23, Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis announced in a press conference on Monday.

Currently, the statute of limitations begins to run when a victim turns 18 and under Maltese law, sex abuse against minors is subject to a 15-year prescription period. 

On Monday, the Lisa Maria Foundation warned there should be no loopholes in the legal system and no compromise can be reached in cases of child abuse.

"Abusers should always be reminded that their crimes can never have a use-by date and that their heinous actions, which rob children of their childhood, and inflict untold psychological and emotional harm for the rest of a person's life, can come back to haunt them at any time in their lifetime.

"It is a fact that many victims need time, often years, to muster the courage to speak about their ordeal and seek justice. In many cases, victims know their abusers, making it difficult for victims to blow their cover."

The foundation added that the law should create no hurdles for victims to seek justice. They should be able to seek justice whenever they are ready to do so.

The new amendments, although a step in the right direction, are certainly not bold enough, it said.

"Far from it! Prescription must be scrapped. No ifs, no buts and certainly no 'compromise'," the foundation added.

The Lisa Maria Foundation urged the government to revise its position on this matter.

Lisa Maria was found dead aged 15, after being reported missing. Her former drama teacher, Erin Tanti, pleaded guilty to murder charges in 2019 and was handed a 20-year prison sentence.

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