‘Econ­omy is grow­ing’ state­ment ‘not enough’ to jus­tify in­crease in build­ings – Curia com­mis­sion

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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.

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