MALTA: Parliament calls for children’s right to be heard in courts

Summary: Calls for government to have Hague Convention on Child Protection incorporated into Maltese law to enforce children’s right to be heard in courts.

[10 July 2012] - Labour MP Justyne Caruana said the Hague Convention, which oversees court cases related to children to be decided in one country and enforced in another, should be implemented in Maltese law.

“During a parliamentary debate, particular emphasis was placed upon Article 23 of the Convention which states that the recognition and enforcement may be refused inter alia if the measure is taken, except in cases of emergency, in the context of judicial or administrative proceedings without giving the child an opportunity to be heard in violation of the fundamental principle of the procedure of the requested state,” Caruana explained.

Caruana said she insisted and warned about the required children’s right to have their voices heard during court cases involving their well-being and how this would require the implementation the United Nations’ convention on Children’s Rights.

“Children in Malta are refused this right on numerous occasions which means we are going to have cases where children are forced to leave the parent they live with and leave behind all they know.”

There have been several unsuccessful attempts to have minors heard by the courts according to Caruana.

“This further strengthens the argument that the voices of our children need to be heard and considered according to the Convention. In the absence of a law guaranteeing this, children are being denied the right to be heard,” she said.

The Labour MP said it was necessary to be aware of Article 23 in Chapter 507 to protect the interests of children.

“The Labour Party is therefore reiterating the need for the International Convention on Children’s Rights to be incorporated in Maltese law and recognise the imminent need for a law for children to have their rights safeguarded and guaranteed the right to hearing,” Caruana said.

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