If birds had a vote

hunter 11

 

If birds had a vote the referendum scheduled for 11 April would not be necessary. Parliament would have afforded them protection many years ago.  But they have no vote.

If birds had a vote, we would never have lost the right of access to the countryside during spring. Spring, the best season of the year, is when families are being prevented from taking children to the countryside due to men running around with guns and generally shooting anything that flies.

If birds had a vote we would be spared the embarrassment of inviting tourists to Malta on the promise of glorious scenic country views and then hoping that they would avoid the countryside altogether.

If birds had a vote we would be spared the absurd situation of having national natural parks (to which children are invited to learn about nature) and that having to witness bird hunting in its midst.

If birds had a vote bullies roaming the countryside would surely be under control.

But birds have no vote. However on 11 April we can vote on their behalf to abolish spring hunting.

Il-logħob tan-nar u r-referendum abrogattiv

fireworks 11

Il-logħob tan-nar, il-manifattura u l-ħażna tiegħu huma regolati mill-Ordinanza dwar l-Esplożivi [Kapitlu 33 tal-Liġijiet ta’ Malta] u r-Regolamenti dwar Kontroll ta’ Xogħolijiet tan-Nar u Esplożivi Oħra [Legislazzjoni sussidjarja 33.03 – Avviż Legali 243 tal-1998 kif emendat].

Kemm l-ordinanza (artiklu 3) kif ukoll ir-regolamenti (regolament 4) jipprovdu li ħadd ma jista’ jipproduċi logħob tan-nar jew jaħraq xogħol tan-nar jekk ma jkollux liċenzja li joħroġ il-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija. Ir-regolamenti jipprovdu ukoll għal liċenzji differenti u għal taħriġ li tkun trid issegwi qabel ma tista’ tagħmel eżami biex il-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija jiddeċiedi jekk għandux joħroġ liċenzja. Hemm ukoll il-ħtieġa ta’ liċenzja għal kamra fejn jinħadem in-nar.

Li kieku kellu jsir referendum dwar il-logħob tan-nar dan ikun jista’ jsir biss biex jitneħħew dawn l-artikli fil-liġi (l-Ordinanza) u fir-regolamenti. Il-konsegwenza jekk referendum bħal dan jgħaddi tkun li ħadd ma jkollu bżonn liċenzja, u allura kulħadd ikun jista’ jagħmel li jrid. Nafu li l-iskop tar-regolamenti u l-liġijiet dwar il-kmamar tan-nar qegħdin hemm biex jgħinu fil-protezzjoni tal-ħajja u s-saħħa ta’ dawk li jaħdmu il-logħob tan-nar.

Referendum abrogattiv dwar il-logħob tan-nar jista’ biss ineħħi l-liġijiet u r-regolamenti li hemm u l-konsegwenza tkun mhux li jispiċċa d-delizzju, imma li ħadd ma jkollu bżonn permess jew liċenzja.

Tal-FKNK dan ma jgħiduhx. Staqsuhom għalfejn qed jgħaddukom biż-żmien.

Iż-Żwiemel u r-Referendum Abrogattiv

horse 11

 

Il-Kodiċi tal-Liġijiet tal-Pulizija – Kapitlu 10 tal-Liġijiet ta’ Malta – jistabilixxi li ħadd ma jista’ jżomm żiemel sakemm ma jkollux liċenzja.

L-Ordinanza dwar Imħatri f’tiġrijiet [kapitlu 78 tal-liġijiet ta’ Malta] tittratta il-post fejn isiru it-tiġrijiet (racecourses). Tipprovdi li l-Ministru jista’ jagħti (jew jirtira) liċenzji.

Li kieku kellu jsir referendum abrogattiv dwar iż-żwiemel dan ikun jista’ jsir biss biex jitneħħew dawn l-artikli fil-liġi. Il-konsegwenza jekk referendum abrogattiv bħal dan jgħaddi tkun li ħadd ma jkollu bżonn liċenzja, u allura kulħadd ikun jista’ jagħmel li jrid.

Referendum abrogattiv dwar iż-żwiemel jista’ biss ineħħi l-liġijiet li hemm u l-konsegwenza tkun mhux li jispiċċa d-delizzju, imma li ħadd ma jkollu bżonn permess jew liċenzja.

Lino Farrugia tal-FKNK din ma qalilkomx. Staqsuh għaliex qed jgħaddikom biż-żmien.

 

Wara Ralph Cassar u Marco Spiteri ……….

Shut-Up

Wara li l-FKNK ilmentaw minn kummenti ta’ Ralph Cassar (AD) u Marco Spiteri (PN) kunsilliera f’Ħ’Attard, il-Bord tal-Governanza tal-Kunsilli Lokali intervjena immedjatament.

Fil-kummenti tagħhom Ralph Cassar u Marco Spiteri qalu li fir-referendum abrogattiv li ser isir nhar il-11 t’April 2015 huma ser jivvutaw kontra l-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa. Għandhom opinjoni u kienu kapaċi jesprimuha. Għax esprimew l-opinjoni tagħhom fuq il-facebook page tal-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Ħ’Attard jidher li tal-FKNK iddarsu u ilmentaw mas-Segretarju Parlamentari nkarigat mill-Kunsilli Lokali. Kitbu lil Josè Herrera flok ma kitbu lil Stefan Buontempo!

F’deċiżjoni li ta’ l-bieraħ, il-Bord tal-Governanza Lokali ddeċieda li l-Kunsilliera Lokali mhux biss għandhom “dritt” talli fuq kollox għandhom ukoll “id-dmir” illi jiftħu ħalqhom u jsemmgħu leħinhom.

Il-Kunsilliera Lokali, qal Dr Joe Mifsud, President tal-Bord ta’ Governanza Lokali, huma rapprezentanti tal-pubbliku, u l-pubbliku għandu dritt li jkun jaf kif jaħsbuha r-rappreżentanti tiegħu.

Ta’ l-inqas, għand hawn min għandu moħħu f’postu f’dan il-pajjiż.

Imma Kunsilliera hawn ħafna iżjed. Ikun tajjeb li wara Cassar u Spiteri jkun hemm iżjed li jsemmgħu leħinhom.  Mhux jibqgħu ħalqhom magħluq kif iriduhom tal-FKNK.

Il-każ ta’ Toni Bezzina, Membru Parlamentari tal-PN

Pullicino + Bezzina

Il-gazzetta tal-Partit Laburista, KullĦadd, il-bieraħ ippubblikat storja dwar Toni Bezzina, Perit fid-Direttorat Ġenerali tax-Xogħolijiet (jiġifieri l-Public Works) u Membru Parlamentari tal-PN, elett mill-ħames distrett. L-istorja, skond il-gazzzetta hi ibbażata fuq rapport ta’ inkjesta liema rapport għadu mhux ippubblikat. Ġew ippubblikati biss siltiet selettivi minnu fil-gazzetta tal-Partit Laburista KulĦadd.

Mhux ser noqgħod nistaqsi min ħareġ dan ir-rapport, għax it-tweġiba hi ovvja. Il-partit fil-Gvern jidhirlu li jista’ jieħu vantaġġ politiku minn din il-publikazzjoni u allura ħareġ l-istorja. Xejn ġdid s’hawn. Il-Gvern seta mexa ħafna aħjar kieku ppubblika r-rapport kollu flok partijiet selettivi minnu. Għax qabel il-vantaġġ politiku hemm id-dritt tal-pubbliku li jkun infurmat. It-trasparenza, sfortunatament, mhiex parti mill-vokabolarju ta’ dan il-Gvern.

Il-każ huwa dwar ħaddiema tal-Gvern (mid-Direttorat Ġenerali tax-Xogħolijiet) li kienu mqabbda jagħmlu xi xoghol ta’ manutenzjoni fil-każin tal-Partit Nazzjonalista taż-Żurrieq meta l-Perit Toni Bezzina kien President tal-istess każin qabel l-elezzjoni ġenerali ta’ Marzu 2013. Qed jingħad li x-xogħol sar waqt il-ħinijiet normali tax-xogħol (bil-pagi ovvjament imħallsa mill-Gvern) u probabbilment li intuża ukoll materjal imħallas minn fondi pubbliċi. Qed nifhem li l-Perit tal-Gvern inkarigat minn dawn il-ħaddiema kien ukoll Toni Bezzina.

Hemm ħafna x’jiġi imwieġeb dwar dan kollu.

L-ewwel u qabel kollox ir-rapport għandu jkun ippubblikat kollu mingħajr dewmien mill-Ministru Joe Mizzi li illum huwa responsabbli mid-Direttorat Ġenerali tax-Xogħolijiet.

Wara dan tkun tinħtieġ spjega mill-Ministru ta’ dakinnhar, jiġifieri George Pullicino (illum kelliemi tal-PN għall-Kindergarten). Jeħtieġ li Pullicino jispjega għalfejn dan ir-rapport inħeba. Probabbilment li George Pullicino jagħtina r-risposta tas-soltu, kull meta jkun dahru mal-ħajt: li hu ma kellux x’jaqsam u ma jaf b’xejn. Probabbilment ukoll li jwaħħal fis-Segretarju Permanenti li kellu.

Jekk hemm provi dwar l-abbużi allegati, hemm bżonn ta’ ferm iktar minn spjegazzjoni mingħand Toni Bezzina. Li kieku dan ir-rapport ħareġ qabel l-elezzjoni ġenerali tal-2013 probabbilment li Toni Bezzina ma kienx jitħalla joħroġ għall-elezzjoni. Min jaf, forsi għalhekk baqa’ mistur dan ir-rapport?

Dan kien jonqsu l-Partit Nazzjonalista fil-Ħames Distrett! Il-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni Simon Busuttil irid jgħaddi mill-kliem għall-fatti.

 

Real and imaginary referenda

Kacca + Vot

 

The abrogative referendum which was given the green light by Malta’s Constitutional Court earlier this month is the first of its kind. It is a referendum which, if successful, will delete from Malta’s statute book regulations which permit spring hunting on quail and turtledove.

In its efforts to  build up support in favour of the retention of spring hunting, the hunting lobby has been repeatedly sending out the message that if this referendum were to succeed, it would pave the way for a multitude of other referenda which, in their words, would threaten various hobbies which they label as minorities. They mention a few of these hobbies  among which pigeon racing.  Obviously, they fail to state that the only real threat to racing pigeon enthusiasts here are those who shoot at anything that flies. And it is not just a one-off incident.

The hunting lobby is not enthusiastic  about the referendum process enhancing democracy in our islands by granting the possibility to voters to demand that a specific legislative instrument is subjected to a  popular vote. They would rather that such a right did not exist.  As witnessed throughout recent years, the hunting lobby prefers the option to acquire concessions through back room deals and agreements with political parties arrived at through a process of bartering votes for concessions.  The statement “NO Kaċċa, NO vote” has been all too familiar in public manifestations organised by the hunting lobby throughout the years.

The abrogative referendum in Malta was introduced through amendments to the Referendum Act approved by Parliament in 1996. Going through the transcripts of the Parliamentary Debate of the 15th and  16th January 1996 reveals an interesting contrast between the speeches of Eddie Fenech Adami, then Prime Minister, and Alfred Sant, then Leader of the Opposition, in the second reading stage of the debate.

Dr Fenech Adami  spoke in favour of a limited right of referendum – limited in the sense that a set of identified legislative instruments could not be subjected to an abrogative referendum.  On the other hand, Dr Sant wanted to extend the limitations. In fact, he emphasised that once a political proposal was part of a political party’s electoral manifesto it should not be possible to subject it to the abrogative referendum process.  Fenech Adami and Sant had also disagreed on whether  it was the appropriate time to introduce a citizens’ initiative through which rather than using the referendum as a negative instrument to cancel a legislative instrument, it would be utilised to submit a proposal to popular vote.  This could take the form of a proposal that Parliament should legislate on a specific matter, or even possibly that policies be drafted relative to neglected issues.

The conclusions of the 1996 debate are with us today, being applied for the first time: Parliament decided to introduce the right to petition for the deletion of legislation. It did not opt to introduce the right to propose new initiatives.

When Parliament decided on the parameters within which the abrogative referendum was to operate, it specifically excluded a number of laws – the Constitution, the European Convention Act and all fiscal legislation; also, all matters required in  implementing any international treaty to which Malta is party cannot be subjected to an abrogative referendum. Likewise, the legislative measures introducing the right to an abrogative referendum as well as electoral legislation cannot be the subject of a petition leading to an abrogative referendum.

When identifying the subject matter for a referendum, the petitioners, with the help of their advisors, examine the different legislative instruments  which deal with the issues under consideration.  Care must be exercised such that the legislation selected as the subject of the referendum does not go beyond what is strictly required. For the 11 April referendum the Coalition for the Abolition of Spring Hunting opted for a 2010 Legal Notice  entitled Framework for Allowing a Derogation Opening a Spring Hunting Season for Turtle Dove and Quail Regulations as the legislative instrument to be voted upon. In so doing, the Coalition’s referendum petition differentiated between the general regulatory legislation on wild birds and the legislation which defined the exceptions which are being permitted during spring. The target of the abrogative referendum being the exception to the rule.

As a result the referendum petition is clear and specific and leads to one conclusion: the abolition or otherwise of spring hunting in Malta. This is the only referendum on the national agenda .

 

published on The Malta Independent on Sunday – 25 January 2015

Il-kredenzjali demokratiċi tal-FKNK

Herrera-Farrugia - email

 

Wara li ilhom ix-xhur jikkampanjaw kontra d-dritt tal-Maltin li b’referendum iħassru r-regolamenti li jippermettu l-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa l-FKNK issa jridu jneħħu kull dubju dwar il-kredenzjali demokratiċi tagħhom.

Kitbu lis-Segretarju Parlamentari Josè Herrera (għax għadhom ma ndunawx li r-responsabbilta’ tal-Kunsilli Lokali issa għaddiet f’idejn is-Segretarju Parlamentari Stefan Buontempo) u talbuh jieħu passi għax żewġ Kunsilliera fil-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Ħ’Attard (Ralph Cassar ta’ AD u l-Viċi Sindku Marco Spiteri tal-PN) qed jikkummentaw kontra l-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa fuq il-facebook page tal-Kunsill Lokali.

X’jippretendu dawn: li jagħmlulna sarima ma ħalqna?

 

Il-logħob tan-nar, ż-żwiemel u r-referendum

Malta fireworks

F’kull votazzjoni li jkun hawn fil-pajjiż ikun hawn min jipprova jqarraq billi jxerred informazzjoni falza. Jiġifieri jxerred il-gideb.

Bil-liġi li għandna f’Malta ma jistax jinġabru firem biex isir referendum ħalli jispiċċa l-logħob tan-nar. L-anqas ma jistgħu jinġabru l-firem biex jitneħħew iż-żwiemel mit-toroq.  Għax ir-referendum abrogattiv ifisser votazzjoni li biha nivvutaw favur jew kontra li nneħħu liġi jew regolamenti.

Issa jekk nivvutaw kontra regolamenti dwar il-logħob tan-nar ikun ifisser li nispiċċaw bla regolamenti u allura l-Gvern ma jkollux poter fuq il-kmamar tal-logħob tan-nar. L-istess jgħodd għaż-żwiemel: referendum dwar iż-żwiemel ma jistax ineħħihom mit-toroq. Jista’ biss ineħħi regolamenti dwar iż-żwiemel. U bla regolamenti l-Gvern ikollu inqas poteri fuq iż-żwiemel.

Fi ftit biss huwa biss il-Parlament li jista’ jnaqqas jew ineħħi ż-żwiemel mit-toroq u fil-fatt il-Ministeru tat-Trasport f’dawn il-ġranet sejjaħ numru ta’ laqgħat propju għalhekk, biex jirregola aħjar u jnaqqas iż-żwiemel fit-toroq.

L-istess dwar il-logħob tan-nar. Huwa biss il-Gvern li għandu is-setgħa li jnaqqas jew jirregola iktar il-logħob tan-nar. Kull tant żmien jagħmel hekk biex itejjeb ir-regolamenti dwar kif iħares is-saħħa u l-ħajja ta’ dawk kollha li għandhom x’jaqsmu mal-logħob tan-nar.

Jiġifieri l-ebda referendum ma jista’ iwaqqaf il-logħob tan-nar jew ineħħi ż-żwiemel mit-toroq.

Fir-referendum tal-11 t’April fil-fatt ser nivvutaw dwar ir-regolamenti li bihom il-Gvern qed jagħti permess biex issir il-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa għall-gamiem u s-summien.  Jekk nivvutaw LE ir-regolamenti jispiċċaw u l-Gvern ma jkunx jista’ iktar jippermetti kaċċa għall-gamiem u s-summien fir-rebbiegħa.

Protecting the birds, reclaiming the countryside

 

turtle doves just shot

The abolition of spring hunting will lead to the protection of birds when they most need it. All birds will be protected, not just the quail and turtle dove.  Birds need our protection during the spring as it is the time of the year when they breed or are preparing to breed. Every bird which is shot during spring signifies that there will be one less nest and consequently there will be fewer birds in the following seasons.

The Birds  Directive of the European Union is an integral part of Maltese law since, and as a result of, Malta’s EU  accession in 2004. The Directive expressly states that EU Member States along migratory bird routes have a far greater responsibility regarding bird protection. This responsibility is spelled out in article 7(4) of the Directive where it is very clearly stated that : “In the case of migratory species, [member states] shall see in particular that the species to which hunting regulations apply are not hunted during their period of reproduction or during their return to their rearing grounds.” This applies to all bird migratory routes throughout EU territory without exception.

The Birds Directive is not a Directive about hunting but about the protection of birds. It does, however, recognise that circumstances may arise as a result of which it may be necessary to permit an exception, which exception is called “a derogation”. Exceptions are very well defined in article 9(1) of the Birds Directive (vide box) and these are the only circumstances in respect of which an EU member state may derogate from its obligations under the Birds Directive. It follows that whilst EU members have the authority to permit an exception, such an exception, or derogation,  must be within the three general parameters determined by the Directive. It is not a right but a tool for addressing the specific situations mentioned in the Directive. Readers will very easily notice that the permissible derogations make no reference to the killing of birds for fun – commonly referred to as “hunting”.

Member states permit thousands of derogations in their territory every year. Derogations in respect of birds that are considered agricultural pests or a potential threat to the safety of aeroplanes are the most frequent cases where derogations are permitted. I am informed that the list of these thousands of derogations all over EU territory does not contain one single case which refers to a derogation for the purpose of sports during spring. Malta is the only exception.

Being on a migratory bird route means that Malta has an international responsibility to protect all birds returning to their rearing grounds to reproduce. This return occurs annually during spring, hence the need to abolish spring hunting. It is a duty we have towards the international community in respect of all the birds migrating through Maltese airspace.

The abrogative referendum, in respect of which Malta’s Constitutional Court decided that no valid objections had been filed, will ask voters whether or not they agree with the regulations that permit a spring hunting derogation for two specific species: turtle dove and quail. These regulations are contained in the Framework for Allowing a Derogation Opening a Spring Hunting Season for Turtle Dove and Quail Regulations, originally published in 2010.

Voting NO on the 11 April  will protect  birds migrating over Malta during spring as well as restore back to the public access to the countryside at that time of the year. It will also eliminate the negative impact (through the sound of gunfire and the trampling all over the countryside) which will further help to attract and allow other breeding birds (not just quail and turtle dove) to nest in our country.

Currently, Malta’s countryside is practically inaccessible during the spring hunting season as one runs the risk of being showered with hunters’ pellets. Maltese families have very little access to the countryside when hunters are enjoying their spring derogation- and a number of them shooting at anything that flies.

This means that Maltese families and their children are being deprived of enjoying nature in all its splendour. We are all entitled to enjoy the countryside, which belongs to us all and not just to a select few. This enjoyment is currently being obstructed by the spring hunting derogation which the Parliamentary parties have been defending continuously.  It is about time that we reclaimed our right to fully enjoy nature in spring, while simultaneously allowing birds to continue breeding.

A total of 41,494 citizens signed a petition which has resulted in the abrogative referendum that will be held on 11 April 2015. This is a unique opportunity to protect the birds and help re-establish our families’ links with nature during the spring.  Let us use this opportunity well by voting NO, thereby rejecting the regulations contained in the spring hunting derogation and consigning spring hunting in Malta to the dustbin of history.

article 9. derogation

 

published in the Independent – Sunday 18 January 2015

X’qalu l-kaċċaturi: kif wieġbet il-Qorti Kostituzzjonali (6)

spring huntng

6.M’hemm l-ebda dritt għall-kaċċa

Is-sitt oġġezzjoni li kkunsidrat il-Qorti Kostituzzjonali hi spjegata fil-paragrafi 51 u 52 tas-sentenza li jgħidu hekk:

Fl-aħħar oġġezzjoni tagħha l-Federazzjoni [FKNK] tgħid illi l-qorti għandha tqis id-drittijiet tal-kaċċaturi bħala “grupp ta’ minoranza” u għandha tqis ukoll illi:

“ filwaqt illi huwa minnu li l-prinċipji tad-demokrazija jistipolaw li hija l-maġġoranza li tiggverna, mill-banda l-oħra tali governanza millmaġġoranza għandha dejjem issir b’rispett lejn il-minoranzi.”

Il-Federazzjoni [FKNK] tkompli tgħid illi taħt l-art. 16(1) tal-Kap. 237[Att dwar ir-Referendi] , il-L.S. 504.94 [Legislazzjoni Sussidjarja, ċjoe r-regolamenti li jippermettu d-deroga tal-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa] ma tistax tintlaqat b’referendum abrogativ għax, jekk ma tibqax fis-seħħ, il-liġi “tkun inkompatibbli ma’ xi waħda mid-disposizzjonijiet tal-Kostituzzjoni jew tal-Att dwar il-Konvenzjoni Europea”.

Il-Qorti Kostituzzjonali twieġeb b’mod ċar fil-paragrafi 53 u 54 tas-sentenza b’dan il-mod :

Il-Federazzjoni iżda ma ssemmi ebda disposizzjoni tal-Kostituzzjoni ta’ Malta jew tal-Konvenzjoni Ewropea li tgħid illi hemm dritt fondamentali għall-kaċċa, jew liema minn dawk id-disposizzjonijiet tista’ tinkiser jekk titħassar il-L.S.504.94 [Legislazzjoni Sussidjarja, ċjoe r-regolamenti li jippermettu d-deroga tal-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa]. Tassew illi d-dritt tal-maġġoranza għandu jitwettaq b’rispett lejn id-dritt tal-minoranza, iżda dan ir-rispett ma jinkisibx billi, kif trid il-Federazzjoni, il-poplu ma jitħalliex isemma’ leħnu f’referendum. Kif ġa ingħad aktar ’il fuq, iċ-ċirkostanzi fejn referendum ma jistax isir huma previsti mil-liġi bħala eċċezzjoni għar-regola li referendum jista’ jsir u bħal kull eċċezzjoni huma ta’ interpretazzjoni stretta.

Din l-aħħar oġġezzjoni hija għalhekk miċħuda.