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Maltese report
by Euro Reporter
2012-04-24 07:40:53
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Malta needs a secular Constitution

The Malta Humanist Association (MHA) expressed its concern at the direction which the President's forum for constitutional reform appears to be taking. At a public session of the forum last Saturday, former US ambassador Douglas Kmiec recommended the inclusion of a preamble which would refer to the existence of a 'Creator': implying that the values upon which our country's legal system should be based - as well as the authority vested in the Constitution by the Maltese people - should derive directly from religious belief. MHA described this as a "disturbing concept, on at least two counts."

"One, it is by no means universally accepted that any such creator exists; still less that any one religion in particular represents his wishes on earth. Two, it would be legally and politically unsound to anchor the authority of a national Constitution in any independently existing dogma or belief: more so when this may not be not shared by all sections of the society that same Constitution represents." MHA added that to do so would be to invite further dissent within an already divided society. "Any minority religious denomination (of which there are several), as well as those who do not hold down any religious beliefs at all, would be justified in feeling excluded from the resulting Constitution: leading one to question whether the authority it wields is indeed legitimate." The association asked what sort of Constitution the President's forum wishes to see enacted. "Do we want a divisive Constitution, which represents the interests only of one section of society, while reducing all others to the status of second class citizens? Or do we want a truly inclusive Constitution that represents all society equally, regardless of creed (or lack thereof)?" MHA explained that during the forum, nearly all the speakers concurred that the Maltese Constitution should be a reflection of the people it represents. "If this is truly the case, then it should also reflect the growing diversity among that same Maltese people."

It also noted that no serious study has recently been undertaken to ascertain the precise landscape insofar as local attitudes to religion are concerned. MHA said that in the absence of any conclusive evidence, "we can rely only on present indications: all of which point towards an increasingly secular and eclectic society."

"Last year's divorce referendum result alone should point in that direction. Earlier still, a 2005 census carried by the Catholic Church revealed that the number of regular Church-goers in Malta at the time represented little more than 55%," the association said. "Bearing in mind the forum's own observation about how the Constitution should mirror society, one struggles to comprehend how ours should go so far out of its way to alienate a considerable segment of the Maltese population." MHA considers the inclusion of any references to religion in the Maltese constitution to be anachronistic and counter-productive. It said European experience amply illustrates that the interest and safety of minority groups in any country - be they secular minorities within a religious majority, or religious minorities where the majority is secular - are best served by the principle of secularism, whereby no such institutions, beliefs or groups are singled out for preferential treatment or special privileges.


Maltese women with the highest healthy life expectancy in the EU

During the first annual meeting of the European Joint Action on Healthy Life Years (EHLEIS) held last week in Paris, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) launched the latest report on life expectancy and healthy life years for all European Union (EU) countries based on 2010 figures. Maltese women appear to have the highest healthy life expectancy in the whole of the EU, even if overall life expectancy for females is not the highest in Europe.

Even so, at 83.6 years, it is only just over a year short of France and Spain, at the top of the league with 85.3 years. This implies that Maltese women are expected to live 85.7% of their life in good health. As for Maltese men life expectancy is at 79.1 years second only to Sweden with 79.6 years.  Healthy life expectancy is calculated to be 70.2 years, second only to Sweden's 71.7 years.

Men in Malta are expected to live 88.6% of their life in good health, which is ahead of the majority of European member states.


MUMN demands investigation of 'leaks' to media

The Malta Union of Nurses has requested the Health Department to investigate how nurses' reports are ending up in the hands of newspapers, in breach of regulations and the Data Protection Act. The investigation was requested after the PN newspaper Il-Mument yesterday reported how a Labour councillor had allegedly assaulted a woman in a public hospital. In his letter in English, MUMN President Paul Pace wrote: “I am referring to the recent episode which took place at an elderly ward in Mt. Carmel Hospital. The Sunday newspaper 'Il-Mument' actually published word by word in English the incident report written by the Nursing Officer. Later during the day, Net TV reported such incident on the evening news.

"This is not acceptable to MUMN since this clearly demonstrates that someone within the Health Department has a direct link with a political party, and when certain people are involved such incidents are being handed over to certain media for political propaganda purposes. This is not acceptable to MUMN where such nurses writing such reports are being quoted word by word and caught in a politically ball game while performing their duties. "The same instances occurred in the past when a nurse had written an incident report where she alleged of being kicked by Mr. Anthony Zammit (Consultant Surgeon and a Member of Parliament) and once again such report was copied word by word in the same political newspaper.

"MUMN is requesting that in the latest incident, which took place last Sunday and which was reported prominently in the Nationalist Party media, a Board of Investigation would be set up within the next 24 hours to expose the person who is passing over such incident reports to the Nationalist Party. MUMN is informing you that if the union is not informed that such a Board of Investigation is not set up within the next 24 hours, and that an acceptable conclusion be given within 72 hours, MUMN will be holding your office and the Principle Permanent Secretary's office in breach of contempt and accomplish (accomplice) to what is taking place in the Health Department. "For MUMN, an acceptable solution is by exposing the person who is flagrantly breaking the regulations of the data protection whilst working within the Health Department under your direct responsibilities. If MUMN's request is not met, MUMN will also be issuing directives to protect its members of being caught in these political manoeuvres. Such directives will allow that every nurse/midwife will be given the right to refuse writing any incident report in the future even when requested by the nursing management or the Health Department. Unless such mole is thoroughly exposed, your office and any hospital management are not in a position to request any future incident reports.

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