Why a blank Child Offenders’ Register?

Times of Malta

About 18 months ago, the government’s announcement of legislation to introduce a Child Offenders’ Register was hailed as a significant step forward. Coincidentally, the news came the day after the Church’s Response Team had concluded that there was enough evidence for the long-standing case of victims of clerical abuse at St Joseph’s Home to be sent to the Holy See in Rome for adjudication.

Whether by coincidence or not, the decision to introduce a Bill to set up a Child Offenders’ Register of course went far wider than simply dealing with clerical abuse, although this most heinous of crimes had stirred public revulsion. The idea of having a paedophile register had in fact surfaced about four years earlier in the wake of another nasty controversy involving the Malta Football Association. The MFA had kept a 79-year-old convicted paedophile as a groundsman at a football ground that doubled up as a playing field for a nearby school.

Over the last five or six years, the legislative wheels have ground slowly forward to the point when, on January 20 this year, the Protection of Minors Act finally came into force.

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