This is just one of the legal changes that the Government is proposing in order to increase the protection of children against sexual abuse and child abduction among others. This was announced by the Minister for Justice Edward Zammit Lewis and the Minister for Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights, Michael Falzon in a news conference where it was announced how among others 16-year-old children can seek psychiatric help without the need consent from the parents or an adult.
Minister Falzon stated how this was the natural step to be taken so that no aggressor is given the opportunity to deprive the victim of medical assistance. He said: “We are also seeing that 16-year-olds are more empowered with themselves, where they can give their consent not only to medical treatment, but all kinds of treatment, psychological, psychiatric, emotional.”
Minister Edward Zammit Lewis also explained how the Government is also looking at widening the Court’s discretion so that even in situations resulting from new social realities, there is justice. He stated: “We have seen that we need to give discretion to our Courts so that not only those who have committed these crimes get what they truly deserve, because it is not only a sexual crime but one committed on a minor, but on the other hand, the Court is endowed with the discretion to assess certain circumstances that may arise, for example, where you have minors and young adults, for example a 19-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl.”
The press conference also mentioned how it is proposed to extend the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court to persons under the age of 18 and not 16. It was also explained how even in cases where parents flee with their children abroad, it will also be classified as kidnapping for the purposes of the law. The draft also introduces an amendment stating that sexual acts with animals will be classified as a crime of animal cruelty.