In 2018 Malta introduced significant changes to its sexual offences law in the Criminal Code, [CAP 9], as well as enacting the Gender-based Violence and Domestic Violence Act 2018, [CAP 581], which incorporates the Istanbul Convention into the Laws of Malta and establishes a Commission on Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence.
Most of the provisions of the Criminal Code covered by this review meet good practice. However, there are a number of areas in which the laws do not meet good practice. For example, consent provisions in respect of adults and children are inadequate.
The common law rules of evidence which provide for discriminatory and unfair treatment of sexual offence complainants, such as the requirement for corroboration or a corroboration warning, are not explicitly excluded. The Code also uses outdated moralistic terms, such as ‘carnal knowledge’, ‘carnal connection’, ‘defilement’, ‘lewd acts,’ ‘indecent acts’, and ‘gratifying lust’ (e.g. ss 198, 201, 204). Although there are a number of sexual offences relating specifically to children, the Code does not provide for close-in-age defences to avoid criminalising children who engage in consensual sexual activity with their peers. The age of consent is 16.
Malta is a state party to relevant international and regional human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention).
The full assessment of Malta is available here.