Taking back control

turtle dove

 

Throughout this Sunday morning the Electoral Commission will supervise the counting of the votes cast  in yesterday’s  spring hunting abrogative referendum. The first reliable projections of the result should be available at around  10.00am with a final result early in the afternoon.

Irrespective of the result, this is history in the making as, for the first time ever, Maltese voters will be directly taking a decision on environmental policy. They will decide whether spring hunting in the Maltese islands will be consigned to the history books.

This is the end of a two year journey that began in  April 2013 when the first steps were taken to form a broad-based anti-spring hunting Coalition of  environmental NGOs together with Alternattiva Demokratika-The Green Party in Malta. Initially, Alternattiva Demokratika’s initiative was met with scepticism: there was widespread fear of confronting the parliamentary political parties which had created the current spring hunting mess.

Constructive dialogue with both the Maltese authorities as well as with the EU Commission had failed to yield results, yet when push came to shove there was still considerable reluctance to think outside the box.  This mess could not be cleared by applying the same thinking that led to its creation. The spring hunting mess was created by successive governments that were held to ransom by the hunting lobby. There was only one solution: government was the problem so it could never be part of the solution – civil society had to take back control of the decision-making process to have order restored.

This was going to be a mammoth task. The fact that the abrogative referendum tool had never been used since its introduction in 1998 understandably added to the reluctance.

As late as 18 June 2013, some environmental NGOs were still hoping that the Maltese Government, or the EU Commission itself, would act in a reasonable manner and stop spring hunting.  In fact, reports in the press at that time were speculating on then EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik initiating an inquiry into spring hunting in Malta.

Early in the day, few people were conscious of the empowerment potential of the abrogative referendum. Almost none of the eNGOs was aware that the abrogative referendum process is independent  of government or Parliament.  Some eNGOs  supported the initiative almost immediately but it was an uphill struggle to convince others, taking weeks and a great deal of patience until practically all eNGOs were on board.

The collection of signatures to initiate the process for calling this abrogative referendum was launched on 10 August 2013 at Il-Buskett. Initially the uptake was very slow, as voters took some time to understand that this was no ordinary petition.

Then, on 23 and 24 October 2013, one of the worst massacres of wild birds in Malta took place. It is best described in a Birdlife Press release which stated  as follows :

“Despite the presence of six BirdLife Malta teams and as many ALE units in the Buskett area this morning at least one Booted Eagle, Ajkla tal-Kalzetti, was shot down inside Buskett Gardens as it left its roost this morning. Several others, including Short-toed and Booted Eagles, were shot at and many more were seen carrying injuries after last night’s shooting spree by hunters in Dingli, Buskett, Girgenti, Siġġiewi and Zebbuġ.

This morning’s second confirmed victim was a Short-toed Eagle, Ajkla Bajda, shot down in Gozo.

The shootings follow what can only be described as a massacre yesterday evening, after more than 50 eagles were seen by birdwatchers counting passing migrating birds in their regular watch-point above the wooded valley of Buskett. At least 10 eagles are known to have been shot down and many more targeted by dozens of hunters in locations around Buskett. Several as yet unconfirmed reports were also received from members of the public who saw eagles and other large birds of prey being shot at and shot down.”

This marked the turning point in signature collection as within ten days of the massacre of these eagles the required number of signatures had been received . The verification process was commenced immediately and the petition was finalised for submission to the Electoral Commission.

By July 2014, the Electoral Commission had concluded its vetting of the signatures submitted and six months later, in January this year, the Constitutional Court threw out the hunters’ objections.

For the past three months we have been actively campaigning to drive the message home: spring is the time when birds are on the way to their breeding grounds. They need to be protected. This message has been conveyed through the different spokesman and women ambassadors who, together with hundreds of volunteers, have done wonders to ensure that practically every voter is aware the he or she has the power to take a decision in order to clean up the mess which Parliament and the government have created over the years.

Today we will know what the decision is.  Saving any last minute surprises, it is clear that after today’s result Maltese civil society will cherish its newly discovered empowerment. Tomorrow, Monday, will not be just the start of a new week.  Hopefully, it be the start of a new era of ever-vigilant NGOs, now armed with the knowledge that they can hold government to account for inadequate legislation whenever they consider that this is necessary.

The abrogative referendum is the tool through which civil society can bring government to order. Today’s result will just confirm whether it can make use of it.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 11 April 2015

Advertisements

Permezz tal-arti napprezzaw in-natura u nsaħħu d-demokrazija

Giovanni Bonello.130315

 

Id-diskors li għamel il-bieraħ l-Imħallef Giovanni Bonello intlaqa’ tajjeb minn kulħadd. Id-diskors ta’ Vanni Bonello kien ċelebrazzjoni tad-demokrazija permezz tal-arti u l-apprezzament tan-natura.

Tkellem fit-tul dwar kif permezz tal-arti nistgħu napprezzaw iktar in-natura. Kienet opportunità ukoll biex sellem il-memorja ta’ Maurice Caruana Curran li miet iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa. L-Imħallef Maurice Caruana Curran kien wieħed mill-pijunieri f’Malta tal-attiviżmu ambjentali bit-twaqqif 50 sena ilu ta’ Din l-Art Ħelwa.

Giovanni Bonello emfasizza l-importanza tar-rwol tas-soċjeta ċivili li bl-użu tal-għodda demokratika tar-referendum abrogattiv qed tieħu lura l-poter li tiddeċiedi mingħand il-politiċi li tul is-snin kienu mhedda u rikattati kontinwament mil-lobby tal-kaċċaturi.

Vanni Bonello kien imdawwar mill-artisti li b’ġenerosita kbira irregalaw il-pitturi tagħhom lill-kampanja kontra l-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa . Kien f’waqtu ukoll għalhekk il-kumment ta’ Vanni Bonello illi l-ebda delizzju m’hu mhedded mir-referendum abrogattiv.

Baqa’ ftit ieħor. 4 ġimgħat oħra u nivvutaw.  Grazzi lil kulħadd tal-impenn. Għax il-messaġġ qiegħed jasal.

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.

X’qalu l-kaċċaturi: kif wieġbet il-Qorti Kostituzzjonali (5)

eu-flag

5. It-trattat tal-EU u r-referendum

Il-ħames oġġezzjoni li kkunsidrat il-Qorti hi spjegata fil-paragrafu 32 tas-sentenza, ftit twil għax jikkwota silta twila mir-rikors tal-kaċċaturi. Fil-qosor  fir-rikors tal-kaċċaturi jingħad illi l-avviż legali dwar id-deroga tal-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa huwa obbligu li jirriżulta mit-trattati Ewopej. Fir-rikors tagħhom il-kaċċaturi jgħidu li jekk dan l-avviż legali jitneħħa kif qed jitlob ir-referendum  Malta tkun qed tonqos milli twettaq l-obbligu tagħha li timplimenta d-Direttiva dwar l-Għasafar.

Is-sentenza tal-Qorti Kostituzzjonali twieġeb fit-tul  is-sottomissjonijiet tal-Kaċċaturi u fost affarijiet oħra fil-paragrafi 37 sa 39 tgħid hekk:

Il-qorti tosserva illi, min-natura tagħha, “deroga” hija mezz kif stat membru jkun jista’ ma jimplimentax għal kollox dak li trid direttiva jew liġi oħra ewropea. Jekk jitħarsu l-kondizzjonijiet li trid direttiva, deroga tkun mod leġittimu kif dan isir. Fil-każ tallum, il-L.S.504.94  [Legislazzjoni Sussidjarja, ċjoe r-regolamenti li jippermettu d-deroga tal-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa] hija mezz kif l-istat malti jista’ leġittimament ma jimplimentax għalkollox id-Direttiva 2009/147/KE. [Direttiva dwar l-Għasafar]

Il-fatt iżda illi deroga hija leġittima – għax iseħħu l-kondizzjonijiet kollha li fihom tista’ tingħata – ma jfissirx illi – għax iseħħu l-istess kondizzjonijiet – hija obbligatorja. Fil-fatt, l-art. 9 tad-Direttiva 2009/147/KE – id-disposizzjoni li tippermetti d-deroga u tgħid f’liema ċirkostanzi tista’ tingħata – igħid ċar illi “L-Istati Membri jistgħu – u mhux “għandhom” – jidderogaw … … …”. Fi kliem ieħor: bid-deroga stat membru jista’ ma jimplimentax għalkollox id-Direttiva; mingħajrha, stat membru huwa marbut illi d-Direttiva jimplimentaha għalkollox u bla eċċezzjoni.

Taħt id-direttiva l-istat membru qatt ma hu obbligat li jimplimenta deroga, anqas meta jirrikorru ċ-ċirkostanzi li jippermettu tali deroga. Għandu għażla jimplimentahiex jekk iseħħu ċ-ċirkostanzi meħtieġa, u, jekk jimplimentaha, għandu obbligu li jħares il-kondizzjonijiet li skonthom trid tigi implimentata dderoga, iżda jekk – ukoll biex iwettaq rieda popolari espressa f’referendum – jagħżel li ma jfittixx deroga dan l-obbligu li jħares il-kondizzjonijiet tad-deroga ma jibqax relevanti għax l-istat ikun qiegħed, minflok, iħares l-obbligu li jwettaq fis-sħiħ id-direttiva. Wara kollox, id-Direttiva 2009/147/KE stess mhux biss ma tgħidx illi l-istati membri huma marbuta li jimplimentaw deroga meta din hija possibbli, iżda anzi tgħid fl-art. 14 illi “L-Istati Membri jistgħu jintroduċu miżuri protettivi aktar stretti minn dawk li hemm previsti f’din id-Direttiva”

Imbagħad il-Qorti Kostituzzjonali fil-paragrafu 50 tas-sentenza tgħaddi biex tgħid li:

 L-oġġezzjoni illi l-L.S. 504.94 hija “leġislazzjoni li tagħti seħħ lil xi obbligazzjoni derivanti minn trattat li jkollha sehem fih Malta” hija għalhekk miċħuda.

Min irid jidħol daqsxejn iktar fil-fond jaqra is-sentenza hawn, b’mod partiklari l-paragrafi  32 sa 50.

X’qalu l-kaċċaturi: kif wieġbet il-Qorti Kostituzzjonali (4)

euros floating in space

4. Il-ħlas ta’ liċenzja ma jagħmilx liġi waħda fiskali

Ir-raba’ oġġezzjoni li kkunsidrat il-Qorti Kostituzzjonali hi spjegata fil-paragrafu 29 tas-sentenza li jgħid hekk:

“Fir-raba’ oġġezzjoni l-Federazzjoni [FKNK] tgħid illi l-L.S. 504.94 [Legislazzjoni Sussidjarja, ċjoe r-regolamenti li jippermettu d-deroga tal-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa] hija leġislazzjoni fiskali u għalhekk hija mħarsa taħt l-art. 16(1)(f) tal-Kap. 237 [Att dwar ir-Referendi]  . Tgħid illi hija leġislazzjoni fiskali għax min imur għall-kaċċa għandu jkollu liċenza li biex jiksibha jrid iħallas.”

Għal din ir-raba’  oġġezzjoni l-Qorti Kostituzzjonali twieġeb hekk fil-paragrafi  30, u 31 tas-sentenza:

“Leġislazzjoni fiskali hija dik, bħall-Att dwar it-Taxxa fuq l-Income jew l-Att dwar it-Taxxa fuq il-Valur Miżjud, illi l-għan ewlieni tagħha huwa l-ġbir ta’ flus għall-erarju. Liġi ma titqiesx leġislazzjoni fiskali għar-raġuni biss illi taħseb għal ħlas ta’ dritt talli jingħata servizz speċifiku bħal ma hu l-ħruġ ta’ liċenza. L-għan ewlieni tal-L.S. 504.04 [Legislazzjoni Sussidjarja, ċjoe r-regolamenti li jippermettu d-deroga tal-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa] ma huwiex il-ġbir ta’ flus iżda r-regolamentazzjoni meħtieġa biex tista’ ssir deroga taħt id-Direttiva 2009/147/KE. [Direttiva dwar l-Għasafar]

Billi għalhekk il-L.S. 504.04 [Legislazzjoni Sussidjarja, ċjoe r-regolamenti li jippermettu d-deroga tal-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa] ma tistax titqies leġislazzjoni fiskali, ir-raba’ oġġezzjoni wkoll hija miċħuda.”

Celebrating democracy

 

turtle dove

Last Friday the Constitutional Court gave the abrogative referendum on spring hunting the green light. In a 24-page decision it threw out each and every objection which the hunters’ organisations submitted for the Court’s consideration.

The nit-picking strategy of the hunters’ lobby has failed, with the Constitutional Court declaring in clear terms that the objections listed by the hunters’ organisations do not constitute valid reasons for halting the abrogative referendum. In particular, the Constitutional Court underlined the fact that the hunters had not in any way attempted to prove their claim that some minority right was in danger of being trampled upon as a result of the proposed abrogative referendum. The Constitutional Court pointed out that the FKNK had failed to identify any provision of the Constitution – or of the European Convention – that spells out a “fundamental right to hunt”. Nor, added the Constitutional Court, had the FKNK specified which of the provisions of the Constitution or of the European Convention would be infringed by the proposed abrogative referendum.

The voice of 41,494 electors is now being heard loud and clear. These electors triggered the call for an abrogative referendum to abolish spring hunting by removing from the statute book the regulations which permit it. These regulations are contained in Legal Notice 221 of 2010 entitled Framework for Allowing a Derogation Opening a Spring Hunting Season for Turtledove and Quail.

This is the third referendum to be held in Malta during the last 12 years. The abrogative referendum authorised by the Constitutional Court on Friday is, however, of a completely different nature from the other two.

Both the 2003 European Union referendum and the 2011 divorce referendum were consultative in nature. In 2003, the government consulted the electorate on Malta’s accession to the EU. It had no legal obligation to do so but it did, however, have a political commitment which it honoured by putting the question of Malta’s accession to the popular vote.

In 2011 Parliament asked the electorate for political direction as to whether or not divorce legislation should be approved by Parliament. It was the political way out for both the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party when faced with the private member’s Bill on the introduction of divorce. Both had then hoped for a no, yet they got a resounding yes.

The referendum this time is not consultative in nature. This time, the referendum will deliver a decision as to whether regulations permitting spring hunting are to be deleted from the statute book. This initiative originated outside Parliament on the initiative of the Coalition for the Abolition of Spring Hunting, made up of 13 environmental NGOs together with Alternattiva Demokratika, the Green Party in Malta. It is the first time that the provisions of the Referenda Act on abrogative referenda are being made use of.

This is the direct result of the backroom dealings practised by the parliamentary parties and the hunting lobby over the years. The hunting lobby has managed to cling on to a spring hunting season through lobbying the parliamentary parties and trading votes for concessions on hunting issues. Public opinion, consistently contrary to the agreements reached by the hunters’ organisations with both the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party, was ignored. Faced with this attitude, the only remaining option was to use the provisions of the Referenda Act, which have been left idle since being enacted in 1996.

Contrary to what some may think, it is not possible to hold an abrogative referendum on any matter whatsoever on merely a whim. The areas that can be subjected to an abrogative referendum are limited by a number of provisions of the law. A basic limitation is the number of signatories required to initiate the process. Ten per cent of the registered electorate is a substantial number of signatures. But then this is a necessary safeguard in order to ensure that the proposal being placed before the electorate is supported by a reasonable number of voters.

Fiscal measures, the Constitution, international treaties, electoral legislation, referendum legislation and issues of human rights are matters that cannot be subjected to a referendum.

Friday’s decision by the Constitutional Court means that the issue of spring hunting will now be decided by the electorate itself. While the specific issue being addressed by the abrogative referendum is spring hunting, the significance of the process is much more than that. It is an empowerment of the electorate, an exercise in direct democracy. The realisation will soon sink in that, on a number of matters, we voters have the right to recall the decision-making process from Parliament. It is a right that has been available but left idle for the past 19 years.

The abrogative referendum – which will be held between mid-April and mid-July – is a celebration of democracy. It strengthens democracy at its roots as it gives each and every one of us the right to participate in specific decisions. To be effective, however, it requires the participation of the largest possible number of voters.

That is the next challenge.

published in The Independent – Sunday 11 January 2015

X’qalu l-kaċċaturi: kif wieġbet il-Qorti Kostituzzjonali (3)

referendum

3. Is-suspetti tal-Federazzjoni ma jistgħux ma jitqisux fiergħa

It-tielet oġġezzjoni li kkunsidrat il-Qorti Kostituzzjonali hi spjegata fil-paragrafu 25 tas-sentenza li jgħid hekk:

Fit-tielet oġġezzjoni l-Federazzjoni [FKNK] tgħid illi l-Kummissjoni Elettorali ma għamlitx il-verifiki meħtieġa biex tara illi tassew fuq id-Dikjarazzjoni hemm numru biżżejjed ta’ firem validi. Tgħid illi “bl-eżerċizzju mwettaq mill-Kummissjoni Elettorali ċertament …. din ma setgħetx tiddikjara fiż-żgur l-għadd ta’ firem validi li jinqraw mid-dikjarazzjoni u konsegwentement qatt ma setgħet tiżgura jekk l-għadd ta’ persuni meħtieġa iffirmawx jew le d-dikjarazzjoni.” Tgħid ukoll illi l-Kummissjoni Elettorali ma ivverifikatx l-awtentiċità tal-firem. Il-Federazzjoni għalhekk talbet illi tingħata “kopja tal-informazzjoni kollha li ġiet inputted fis-sistema kompjuterizzata mill-istess Kummissjoni Elettorali sabiex b’hekk l-esponenti jkunu jistgħu jqabblu tali informazzjoni mad-data li għandhom huma.

Għal din t-tielet  oġġezzjoni l-Qorti Kostituzzjonali twieġbet hekk fil-paragrafi  26, 27 u 28 tas-sentenza:

“Fl-art. 14(3) u (4) tal-Kap. 237 jingħad hekk:

≫14. (3) Il-Kummissjoni Elettorali għandha fi żmien ħmistax-il jum mill-konsenja tad-dikjarazzjonijiet imsemmija fis-subartikolu (1) tiżgura xi jkun l-għadd ta’ persuni, kwalifikati skont ma hemm fis-subartikolu (1), li jkunu ffirmaw id-dikjarazzjoni, u għandha matul iż-żmien imsemmi ta’ ħmistax-il jum tiddepożita dawk id-dikjarazzjonijiet permezz ta’ nota fir-reġistru tal-Qorti Kostituzzjonali, li biha tiddikjara x’ikun l-għadd ta’ firem validi li jinqraw mid-dikjarazzjoni, kif ukoll l-għadd ta’ firem invalidi u għaliex dawn ikunu invalidi, flimkien ma’ dikjarazzjoni li tkun tindika jekk l-għadd ta’ persuni meħtieġa skont is-subartikolu (1) ikunx iffirma d-dikjarazzjoni.

≫(4) Id-deċiżjoni tal-Kummissjoni Elettorali dwar l-għadd ta’ persuni li jkunu ffirmaw validament id-dikjarazzjoni għandha tkun waħda finali u konklużiva.≪

Il-Kummissjoni Elettorali ippreżentat in-nota li jrid l-art. 14(3) fit-2 ta’ Lulju 2014. F’dik in-nota fissret kif għamlet il-verifika tal-firem u qalet kemm huma l-firem validi u dawk invalidi. L-art. 14(4) igħid illi d-deċiżjoni tal-Kummissjoni Elettorali dwar il-għadd tal-firem validi għandha tkun finali u konklużiva u din il-qorti ma tarax illi s-suspetti ġeneriċi mressqa mill-Federazzjoni, imsaħħa b’ebda prova jew argument konvinċenti, huma biżżejjed biex tiġi serjament kontestata d-deċiżjoni tal-kummissjoni. Il-metodu ta’ verifika tal-firem adottat mill-Kummissjoni Elettorali, kif imfisser fin-nota tagħha tat-2 ta’ Lulju 2014, huwa wieħed raġonevoli; verifika ta’ kull firma minn espert tal-kitba, kif trid il-Federazzjoni, la tkun prattika u lanqas fattibbli. Barra minn hekk, meta tqis ukoll illi l-għadd meħtieġ ta’ firem kien tlieta u tletin elf, erba’ mija u tmintax (33,418) u l-Kummissjoni Elettorali għaddet wieħed u erbgħin elf, erba’ mija u erbgħa u disgħin (41,494) firma valida, b’mod illi, ukoll jekk dsatax fil-mija (19%) tal-firem maħsuba validi huma ħżiena, xorta jifdal aktar minn biżżejjed biex id-dikjarazzjoni tintlaqa’, is-suspetti tal-Federazzjoni ma jistgħux ma jitqisux fiergħa.

Il-qorti għalhekk tiċħad it-tielet oġġezzjoni u tiċħad ukoll it-talba tal-Federazzjoni biex tingħata d-data fil-pussess tal-Kummissjoni Elettorali.”

Ir-referendum: 11 t’April 2015

turtle dove 2

 

L-istorja ta’ dan ir-referendum qed iżżid ir-ritmu issa li l-Qorti Kostituzzjonali ddeċidiet.

Fi ftit iktar minn 24 siegħa wara li l-Qorti esprimiet ruħha, l-Gvern iddeċieda d-data tar-referendum li issa hu ċar li ser isir fil-11 t’April 2015, flimkien mal-elezzjonijiet għall-Kunsilli Lokali. Li dawn l-elezzjonijiet ser isiru flimkien mar-referendum hu pass tajjeb. Il-pajjiż jiffranka l-flus, u anke, għax le, probabbilment li jkun hemm iktar nies li joħorġu jivvutaw.

Qed jingħad ħafna kliem dwar x’inhuma ir-raġunijiet għall-għażla tad-data. Meta kien mistoqsi dwar dan, il-Prim Ministru qal li ma jixtieqx kampanja twila għax il-pajjiż għandu ħafna affarijiet iktar importanti x’jagħmel. Għandu biċċa raġun dwar dan. Imma hu ċar ukoll li l-għażla tal-11 t’April 2015 bħala d-data tar-referendum, eżattament qabel id-dati normali tal-istaġun tal-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa, tipproteġi lill-kaċċaturi mill-abbużi u l-esagerazzjonijiet li uħud minnhom iwettqu waqt u wara kull staġun.  Kull sena jiġru minnhom dawn l-abbużi w il-fatt li l-Gvern għażel illi l-votazzjoni issir qabel l-istaġun tal-kaċċa m’għandix dubju li hemm ftit ħsieb f’dan is-sens.  Iktar milli jagħti vantaġġ lill-kaċċaturi naħseb li jipprova jipproteġihom mill-iżvantaġġi li joħolqu huma stess!

Għadhom kif ħarġu stqarrija l-FKNK li fiha jgħidu li l-għodda tar-referendum hi waħda anti-demokratika. Għadhom jeqirdu li għandhom xi dritt speċjali għall-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa. Anke fil-Qorti qalu hekk.

Il-paragrafu 51 tas-sentenza tal-Qorti Kostituzzjonali jingħad hekk:

51. 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 mill-maġġoranza għandha dejjem issir b’rispett lejn il-minoranzi.”

Imma l-Qorti Kostituzzjonali weġbithom u ddeċidiet b’dan li mod :

 “53. Il-Federazzjoni [FKNK] 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 [leġislazzjoni sussidjarja li tippermetti 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.

 54. Din l-aħħar oġġezzjoni hija għalhekk miċħuda.”

 

Min irid kopja sħiħa tas-sentenza jista’ jidħol fis-sit tal-Qorti fejn ikun jista’ jiddawnlodja kopja. Min ikollu diffikulta’ jista’ jibghatli jikkuntattjani u nibgħatlu pdf.

 

 

X’qalu l-kaċċaturi: kif wieġbet il-Qorti Kostituzzjonali (2)

submission of referendum signature requests

2. Oġġezzjoni fattwalment ħażina

It-tieni oġġezzjoni li kkunsidrat il-Qorti hi spjegata fil-paragrafu 21 tas-sentenza li jgħid hekk:

“It-tieni oġġezzjoni tgħid illi d-Dikjarazzjoni ma tgħidx min huma l-persuni li qegħdin jagħmluha, u għalhekk ma tħarisx dak li jgħid u jrid l-art. 15(2) tal-Kap 237 [Att dwar ir-Referendi] :

“15(2) Dawk li jipproponu r-referendum, li ma jkunux inqas minn ħamsa u mhux iktar minn għaxra, għandhom jiffirmaw id-dikjarazzjoni qabel il-persuni l-oħra kollha filwaqt li jindikaw li jkunu qegħdin jiffirmaw bħala proponent.”

Għal din t-tieni  oġġezzjoni l-Qorti Kostituzzjonali wieġbet hekk fil-paragrafi  22, 23 u 24 tas-sentenza:

“ Din l-oġġezzjoni hija fattwalment ħażina. Id-Dikjarazzjoni saret fil-forma murija fl-Ewwel Skeda tal-Kap.237 li trid li d-dikjarazzjoni tibda hekk :

“Aħna hawn taħt iffirmati li aħna persuni rreġistrati bħala eletturi għall-elezzjoni ta’ membri fil-Kamra tad-Deputati (li minna l-ewwel għadd ta’ *(1) …………………….. persuni hawn taħt iffirmati huma l-proponenti) qegħdin nitolbu li l-mistoqsija dwar jekk dawn id-disposizzjonijiet tal-liġi li ġejjin, jiġifieri ……………..”

Imbagħad fil-parti fejn fl-Ewwel Skeda jitħalla vojt – fejn hemm l-istilla (*) u n-numru wieħed (1) – biex jitniżżel in-numru ta’ proponeti tniżżel in-numru “għaxra”, li jfisser illi l-ewwel għaxar ismijiet huma tal-proponeti u l-bqija huma l-ismijiet ta’ dawk illi ffirmaw id-dikjarazzjoni biex jintlaħaq in-numru li jrid l-art. 14(1) biex id-dikjarazzjoni tkun tista’ validament tintbagħat lill-Kummissjoni Elettorali.

It-tieni oġġezzjoni hi għalhekk miċħuda.”