‘Economy is growing’ statement ‘not enough’ to justify increase in buildings – Curia commission
Generic statements such as “the economy is growing” are simply not enough to explain or justify the increase in buildings which at the end may still be hard to occupy or even be detrimental to the common good, the Interdiocesan Commission for the Environment (KA) said yesterday.
In December 2015, the Interdiocesan Commission for the Environment proposed some points for reflection and action by Maltese citizens and government so that as a Maltese nation we do our part to care for our common home. The proposals followed the publication of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’.
On World Town Planning Day 2016, which was being observed yesterday, the KA focused on one recommendation that dealt with a national study on property. The proposal invited government to “fund a long overdue and truly national study on the demand and supply of Maltese properties and the fiscal and economic environment that has a bearing on them. The terms of reference for such study should be issued for public consultation and enjoy the widest agreement possible by all stakeholders”.
Generic statements such as “the economy is growing” are simply not enough to explain or justify the increase in buildings which at the end may still be hard to occupy or even be detrimental to the common good.
Other statements such as “government should not interfere in the property market”, besides being dangerous, are not helpful either in the search for policy options because in its essence, development planning is a desirable intervention in a market which would otherwise make the country a very unpleasant place to live in for most people.
Interventions in the property market through planning policies, and fiscal measures and the approval of projects emanating from such policies and measures, need to be better substantiated by information which is transparent, reliable and available to everyone. The KA firmly believes that a national study on the property market will assist in contributing to a culture where decisions are taken in the interest of the common good. In the words of Pope Francis, the common good, on the other hand, is much more than the sum of individual interests. It moves from “what is best for me” to “what is best for everyone”. In a landmark decision, a constitutional court has ordered the authorities to draft a mechanism that will allow prisoners serving life sentences to apply for parole, revision and the possibility of having their term reduced.
The ruling was part of the judgement handed down in a case filed by Tunisian Bel Ali Wahid Ben Hassine – who had admitted to the murder of four people in 1988 – in which a court said that a life sentence in Malta was in breach of fundamental human rights.
The court was presided over by Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri and Judges Giannino Caruana Demajo and Noel Cuschieri.
Mr Ben Hassine successfully argued that the fact that Maltese law did not allow prisoners serving life to apply for a revision, as recommended by the Council of Europe, was in breach of fundamental rights.
The court said prisoners serving life sentences in Malta could only write to the President to ask for a pardon or ask for prison leave. However there were no objective criteria that are considered by the President before they consult with the cabinet and make a decision. As such this was only a discretional power and could not be considered as an adequate mechanism for the revision of a life sentence, as is required by the European Convention of Human Rights.
Lawyers Larry Formosa and Alfred Grech appeared for the Tunisian.
The Tunisian had been found guilty, along with co-national Mohsen Bin Brahim Mosbah, of killing four people in 1988. They are considered to be serial killers.
The two men had admitted to killing James Reed at Ta’ Xbiex on a yacht on 12 February, 1988 and Alfred Cucciardi, a taxi driver, on the same night. Six days later, they killed taxi driver Alfred Darmanin and Frenchman Michel Levarlet. Both are serving life sentences.
There are currently 14 prisoners serving life sentences at the Corradino Correctional Facility.