Human frights for those under arrest

The EU wants all suspected criminals placed under arrest to be informed of their rights by means of a letter. I wonder how that will turn out...

So the European Union now insists that all suspected criminals who are placed under arrest must be informed of their rights by means of a letter.

How odd. I was under the impression we already did that here in Malta. In fact we've been doing it for years. And not just a letter: there are numbers, too. Something along the lines of: "Will suspect A-2044 please step forward for interrogation, please?" Or "Can suspect J-2087 kindly sign his prepared confession, and save us the bother of actually doing any work...?" And so on and so forth.

But then, of course, I read the article and realized that - duh! - they were talking about another kind of letter. You know, the type that's written on a piece of paper, then generally sent by post in a stamped envelope, etc. In which case, my only question is: why bother? Let's face it, as letters go this one is not exactly going to be very long. In fact I can draft it right now - something like:

"Dear Detainee,

Yours sincerely,

The Police."

However, I imagine that sort of letter - being truthful and to the point - is unlikely to meet the stringent criteria now demanded by the EU's Directorate of Official Government Message Administration (DOGMA) - which require, among other things, that all official government communications must be at least 17 million words long, translated into all 27 EU languages, and countersigned by at least a dozen faceless technocrats.

So in keeping with the spirit of the EU directive, I have decided to spare the Malta Police Force a tonne of work and draft the local version of the 'letter of rights' myself. So without further ado... let's just get on with it, shall we?

"Dear Detainee,

"First of all, welcome to the Floriana Depot Bed and Breakfast. We sincerely hope you enjoy your sojourn as much as we almost certainly will.

"In case you were wondering, the purpose of this letter is to inform you of your 'rights' while in police custody. For contrary to what those pesky journalists keep writing about us here at the Malta Police Force (Hospitality Branch), it is simply not true that people are instantly stripped of all human rights the moment they cross the threshold of the Floriana depot.

"No indeed. The truth is that their rights are retained in full... merely ignored for as long they remain our guests.

"That, at least, was the case until last year. Since then, however, we have been forced to grudgingly and reluctantly make available at least one 'right' to all persons in custody: the right to legal assistance while under arrest. (That's right, folks: before 2011 you couldn't even talk to a blinking lawyer. Ah, the good old days...)

"For the record, it will be remembered that we did absolutely everything in our power to stop you from enjoying this basic, fundamental right... in fact our Commissioner even argued against it on live TV, claiming that it 'would make it difficult for us to solve crimes'. And of course he was perfectly right. We know from experience that it is much, much easier to 'solve crimes' when the people you are charging have no clue that they had a legal right NOT to sign that confession. But alas! Thanks to those busybodies at the European Court of Human Rights, we were left with no option but to introduce legal assistance... or face a situation where all arrests and prosecutions since 2004 would have been illegal.

"Still, I wouldn't worry too much if I were you. We've worked things out in such a way as to ensure you derive only minimal benefit from this right... by limiting your access to a lawyer only to a few minutes before your interrogation: at which point it will just be you and us in the comfort of a cosy little cell.

"Oh, and as for all the other things you'd expect to have a right to while in custody... the phone-call, the right to remain silent, and so on... excuse me, but what do you think this is? Hollywood?

"Meanwhile, for your own comfort and safety here are a few things to bear in mind about the Floriana Police Guest House.

"Should anything 'untoward' happen to you during your sojourn - for instance, should you die under mysterious circumstances... possibly a few weeks after somehow finding yourself unconscious under the bastions, suffering from multiple fractures and internal bleeding - kindly note that we will not assume any responsibility for your untimely death. In fact we are unique among police forces the world over in that we do not actually bear any legal or moral responsibility for anybody in our 'custody' (which incidentally makes you wonder what the word even means).

"But if it's any consolation we will inform your next of kin... and also the whole country... by means of a bland press release, issued in a great hurry (only after the news of your death has already been made public in the media) to explain that you actually died while trying to escape, and that the police did everything in their power to save your life.

"Everything, that is, except keep you under surveillance and make sure you don't come in harm's way. But let's face it: since when has THAT ever been part of our job description?

"Right, that's it from our end. Should you have any further queries, please don't hesitate to keep them to yourselves. (We ask the questions. You answer them. Remember?)

"Fond regards,

"The Police."

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@giovanni demartino: naqbel mieghek li kien hemm zmien meta l-ingustizzji kienu jsiru mill-stat jew bil-barka tieghu pero xorta irridu llum niggieldu l-ingustizzji li jsiru minn individwi sabiex qatt aktar ma mmorru ghal dak iz-zmien. dan huwa dover ta' kullhadd irrepettivament mill-kulur politiku.
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@giovanni demartino: naqbel mieghek li kien hemm zmien meta l-ingustizzji kienu jsiru mill-stat jew bil-barka tieghu pero xorta irridu llum niggieldu l-ingustizzji li jsiru minn individwi sabiex qatt aktar ma mmorru ghal dak iz-zmien. dan huwa dover ta' kullhadd irrepettivament mill-kulur politiku.
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For those interested in the subject it will be good to know that up to that glorious May 1987, those under interrogation were tortured, threatened, ordered to sign declarations admitting guilt and, why not, sometimes murdered at the Depot.
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Aktiklu veru interessanti u bis-sens. Familjari tieghi huwa wiehed minn tlieta li gie liberat dan l-ahhar fuq kaz ta’ stupru. Kas li ma jmissu qatt wasal il-qorti. Dan ghamel 14-il xahar house arrest lanqas setgha jmur jara lill-akbar habib tieghu li kien qed imut jew sempliciment ghand dentist. Dan thalla johrog meta t-tabib forensiku qal li ma instab xejn taghhom anzi semena ta’ persuna ohra mhux maghrufa. Din marret ma’ persuna wara dawn it-tlieta? Qalet fil-qorti li wara marret tinhasel u wegget hafna meta poggiet il-bicca ma’ wara. Bil-kuntrarju it-tabib li ezaminaha qal li lanqas trawma ma kien hemm fil-partijiet taghha. Qalet ukoll li hasbet li se jwassluha meta t-triq tal-flat li marru huwa l-oppost ta’ fejn toqghod hija. Qalet li t-tlieta telqu u sid il-post qallha tlaqt ghalaq il-bieb warajk. Allura dan lanqas biss bezgha li din thallilu l-bieb miftuh jew taghmillu hsara? Li kieku kelli insemmi hmerijiet ohra ma nispicca qatt. Li weggana hafna huwa li kieku l-investigazzjoni kollha giet iffilmjata jew kien prezenti avukat kieku dawn qatt u qatt ma kienu jitresqu l-qorti. Sitt snin mitlufa minn hajjithom umiljati mitfuha l-habs fuq gidba kollox ghax wiehed minnhom jigi l-gharus tal-kugina taghha. Fil-fatt kull ma gara kien li huma baghtu ghal kugina u din qaltilhom “jekk veru morru l-ghassa u jekk mhux veru tmorrux”. twegga li meta hasbu li ghaddha kollox il-pulizija appellaw li fl-opinjoni tieghi huwa kaz semplici. L-importanti li Alla jaf min hawwad il-borma.
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Aktiklu veru interessanti u bis-sens. Familjari tieghi huwa wiehed minn tlieta li gie liberat dan l-ahhar fuq kaz ta’ stupru. Kas li ma jmissu qatt wasal il-qorti. Dan ghamel 14-il xahar house arrest lanqas setgha jmur jara lill-akbar habib tieghu li kien qed imut jew sempliciment ghand dentist. Dan thalla johrog meta t-tabib forensiku qal li ma instab xejn taghhom anzi semena ta’ persuna ohra mhux maghrufa. Din marret ma’ persuna wara dawn it-tlieta? Qalet fil-qorti li wara marret tinhasel u wegget hafna meta poggiet il-bicca ma’ wara. Bil-kuntrarju it-tabib li ezaminaha qal li lanqas trawma ma kien hemm fil-partijiet taghha. Qalet ukoll li hasbet li se jwassluha meta t-triq tal-flat li marru huwa l-oppost ta’ fejn toqghod hija. Qalet li t-tlieta telqu u sid il-post qallha tlaqt ghalaq il-bieb warajk. Allura dan lanqas biss bezgha li din thallilu l-bieb miftuh jew taghmillu hsara? Li kieku kelli insemmi hmerijiet ohra ma nispicca qatt. Li weggana hafna huwa li kieku l-investigazzjoni kollha giet iffilmjata jew kien prezenti avukat kieku dawn qatt u qatt ma kienu jitresqu l-qorti. Sitt snin mitlufa minn hajjithom umiljati mitfuha l-habs fuq gidba kollox ghax wiehed minnhom jigi l-gharus tal-kugina taghha. Fil-fatt kull ma gara kien li huma baghtu ghal kugina u din qaltilhom “jekk veru morru l-ghassa u jekk mhux veru tmorrux”. twegga li meta hasbu li ghaddha kollox il-pulizija appellaw li fl-opinjoni tieghi huwa kaz semplici. L-importanti li Alla jaf min hawwad il-borma.
avatar
Aktiklu veru interessanti u bis-sens. Familjari tieghi huwa wiehed minn tlieta li gie liberat dan l-ahhar fuq kaz ta’ stupru. Kas li ma jmissu qatt wasal il-qorti. Dan ghamel 14-il xahar house arrest lanqas setgha jmur jara lill-akbar habib tieghu li kien qed imut jew sempliciment ghand dentist. Dan thalla johrog meta t-tabib forensiku qal li ma instab xejn taghhom anzi semena ta’ persuna ohra mhux maghrufa. Din marret ma’ persuna wara dawn it-tlieta? Qalet fil-qorti li wara marret tinhasel u wegget hafna meta poggiet il-bicca ma’ wara. Bil-kuntrarju it-tabib li ezaminaha qal li lanqas trawma ma kien hemm fil-partijiet taghha. Qalet ukoll li hasbet li se jwassluha meta t-triq tal-flat li marru huwa l-oppost ta’ fejn toqghod hija. Qalet li t-tlieta telqu u sid il-post qallha tlaqt ghalaq il-bieb warajk. Allura dan lanqas biss bezgha li din thallilu l-bieb miftuh jew taghmillu hsara? Li kieku kelli insemmi hmerijiet ohra ma nispicca qatt. Li weggana hafna huwa li kieku l-investigazzjoni kollha giet iffilmjata jew kien prezenti avukat kieku dawn qatt u qatt ma kienu jitresqu l-qorti. Sitt snin mitlufa minn hajjithom umiljati mitfuha l-habs fuq gidba kollox ghax wiehed minnhom jigi l-gharus tal-kugina taghha. Fil-fatt kull ma gara kien li huma baghtu ghal kugina u din qaltilhom “jekk veru morru l-ghassa u jekk mhux veru tmorrux”. twegga li meta hasbu li ghaddha kollox il-pulizija appellaw li fl-opinjoni tieghi huwa kaz semplici. L-importanti li Alla jaf min hawwad il-borma.
avatar
Aktiklu veru interessanti u bis-sens. Familjari tieghi huwa wiehed minn tlieta li gie liberat dan l-ahhar fuq kaz ta’ stupru. Kas li ma jmissu qatt wasal il-qorti. Dan ghamel 14-il xahar house arrest lanqas setgha jmur jara lill-akbar habib tieghu li kien qed imut jew sempliciment ghand dentist. Dan thalla johrog meta t-tabib forensiku qal li ma instab xejn taghhom anzi semena ta’ persuna ohra mhux maghrufa. Din marret ma’ persuna wara dawn it-tlieta? Qalet fil-qorti li wara marret tinhasel u wegget hafna meta poggiet il-bicca ma’ wara. Bil-kuntrarju it-tabib li ezaminaha qal li lanqas trawma ma kien hemm fil-partijiet taghha. Qalet ukoll li hasbet li se jwassluha meta t-triq tal-flat li marru huwa l-oppost ta’ fejn toqghod hija. Qalet li t-tlieta telqu u sid il-post qallha tlaqt ghalaq il-bieb warajk. Allura dan lanqas biss bezgha li din thallilu l-bieb miftuh jew taghmillu hsara? Li kieku kelli insemmi hmerijiet ohra ma nispicca qatt. Li weggana hafna huwa li kieku l-investigazzjoni kollha giet iffilmjata jew kien prezenti avukat kieku dawn qatt u qatt ma kienu jitresqu l-qorti. Sitt snin mitlufa minn hajjithom umiljati mitfuha l-habs fuq gidba kollox ghax wiehed minnhom jigi l-gharus tal-kugina taghha. Fil-fatt kull ma gara kien li huma baghtu ghal kugina u din qaltilhom “jekk veru morru l-ghassa u jekk mhux veru tmorrux”. twegga li meta hasbu li ghaddha kollox il-pulizija appellaw li fl-opinjoni tieghi huwa kaz semplici. L-importanti li Alla jaf min hawwad il-borma.
avatar
Aktiklu veru interessanti u bis-sens. Familjari tieghi huwa wiehed minn tlieta li gie liberat dan l-ahhar fuq kaz ta’ stupru. Kas li ma jmissu qatt wasal il-qorti. Dan ghamel 14-il xahar house arrest lanqas setgha jmur jara lill-akbar habib tieghu li kien qed imut jew sempliciment ghand dentist. Dan thalla johrog meta t-tabib forensiku qal li ma instab xejn taghhom anzi semena ta’ persuna ohra mhux maghrufa. Din marret ma’ persuna wara dawn it-tlieta? Qalet fil-qorti li wara marret tinhasel u wegget hafna meta poggiet il-bicca ma’ wara. Bil-kuntrarju it-tabib li ezaminaha qal li lanqas trawma ma kien hemm fil-partijiet taghha. Qalet ukoll li hasbet li se jwassluha meta t-triq tal-flat li marru huwa l-oppost ta’ fejn toqghod hija. Qalet li t-tlieta telqu u sid il-post qallha tlaqt ghalaq il-bieb warajk. Allura dan lanqas biss bezgha li din thallilu l-bieb miftuh jew taghmillu hsara? Li kieku kelli insemmi hmerijiet ohra ma nispicca qatt. Li weggana hafna huwa li kieku l-investigazzjoni kollha giet iffilmjata jew kien prezenti avukat kieku dawn qatt u qatt ma kienu jitresqu l-qorti. Sitt snin mitlufa minn hajjithom umiljati mitfuha l-habs fuq gidba kollox ghax wiehed minnhom jigi l-gharus tal-kugina taghha. Fil-fatt kull ma gara kien li huma baghtu ghal kugina u din qaltilhom “jekk veru morru l-ghassa u jekk mhux veru tmorrux”. twegga li meta hasbu li ghaddha kollox il-pulizija appellaw li fl-opinjoni tieghi huwa kaz semplici. L-importanti li Alla jaf min hawwad il-borma.
avatar
Aktiklu veru interessanti u bis-sens. Familjari tieghi huwa wiehed minn tlieta li gie liberat dan l-ahhar fuq kaz ta’ stupru. Kas li ma jmissu qatt wasal il-qorti. Dan ghamel 14-il xahar house arrest lanqas setgha jmur jara lill-akbar habib tieghu li kien qed imut jew sempliciment ghand dentist. Dan thalla johrog meta t-tabib forensiku qal li ma instab xejn taghhom anzi semena ta’ persuna ohra mhux maghrufa. Din marret ma’ persuna wara dawn it-tlieta? Qalet fil-qorti li wara marret tinhasel u wegget hafna meta poggiet il-bicca ma’ wara. Bil-kuntrarju it-tabib li ezaminaha qal li lanqas trawma ma kien hemm fil-partijiet taghha. Qalet ukoll li hasbet li se jwassluha meta t-triq tal-flat li marru huwa l-oppost ta’ fejn toqghod hija. Qalet li t-tlieta telqu u sid il-post qallha tlaqt ghalaq il-bieb warajk. Allura dan lanqas biss bezgha li din thallilu l-bieb miftuh jew taghmillu hsara? Li kieku kelli insemmi hmerijiet ohra ma nispicca qatt. Li weggana hafna huwa li kieku l-investigazzjoni kollha giet iffilmjata jew kien prezenti avukat kieku dawn qatt u qatt ma kienu jitresqu l-qorti. Sitt snin mitlufa minn hajjithom umiljati mitfuha l-habs fuq gidba kollox ghax wiehed minnhom jigi l-gharus tal-kugina taghha. Fil-fatt kull ma gara kien li huma baghtu ghal kugina u din qaltilhom “jekk veru morru l-ghassa u jekk mhux veru tmorrux”. twegga li meta hasbu li ghaddha kollox il-pulizija appellaw li fl-opinjoni tieghi huwa kaz semplici. L-importanti li Alla jaf min hawwad il-borma.
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Aktiklu veru interessanti u bis-sens. Familjari tieghi huwa wiehed minn tlieta li gie liberat dan l-ahhar fuq kaz ta’ stupru. Kas li ma jmissu qatt wasal il-qorti. Dan ghamel 14-il xahar house arrest lanqas setgha jmur jara lill-akbar habib tieghu li kien qed imut jew sempliciment ghand dentist. Dan thalla johrog meta t-tabib forensiku qal li ma instab xejn taghhom anzi semena ta’ persuna ohra mhux maghrufa. Din marret ma’ persuna wara dawn it-tlieta? Qalet fil-qorti li wara marret tinhasel u wegget hafna meta poggiet il-bicca ma’ wara. Bil-kuntrarju it-tabib li ezaminaha qal li lanqas trawma ma kien hemm fil-partijiet taghha. Qalet ukoll li hasbet li se jwassluha meta t-triq tal-flat li marru huwa l-oppost ta’ fejn toqghod hija. Qalet li t-tlieta telqu u sid il-post qallha tlaqt ghalaq il-bieb warajk. Allura dan lanqas biss bezgha li din thallilu l-bieb miftuh jew taghmillu hsara? Li kieku kelli insemmi hmerijiet ohra ma nispicca qatt. Li weggana hafna huwa li kieku l-investigazzjoni kollha giet iffilmjata jew kien prezenti avukat kieku dawn qatt u qatt ma kienu jitresqu l-qorti. Sitt snin mitlufa minn hajjithom umiljati mitfuha l-habs fuq gidba kollox ghax wiehed minnhom jigi l-gharus tal-kugina taghha. Fil-fatt kull ma gara kien li huma baghtu ghal kugina u din qaltilhom “jekk veru morru l-ghassa u jekk mhux veru tmorrux”. twegga li meta hasbu li ghaddha kollox il-pulizija appellaw li fl-opinjoni tieghi huwa kaz semplici. L-importanti li Alla jaf min hawwad il-borma.
avatar
Aktiklu veru interessanti u bis-sens. Familjari tieghi huwa wiehed minn tlieta li gie liberat dan l-ahhar fuq kaz ta’ stupru. Kas li ma jmissu qatt wasal il-qorti. Dan ghamel 14-il xahar house arrest lanqas setgha jmur jara lill-akbar habib tieghu li kien qed imut jew sempliciment ghand dentist. Dan thalla johrog meta t-tabib forensiku qal li ma instab xejn taghhom anzi semena ta’ persuna ohra mhux maghrufa. Din marret ma’ persuna wara dawn it-tlieta? Qalet fil-qorti li wara marret tinhasel u wegget hafna meta poggiet il-bicca ma’ wara. Bil-kuntrarju it-tabib li ezaminaha qal li lanqas trawma ma kien hemm fil-partijiet taghha. Qalet ukoll li hasbet li se jwassluha meta t-triq tal-flat li marru huwa l-oppost ta’ fejn toqghod hija. Qalet li t-tlieta telqu u sid il-post qallha tlaqt ghalaq il-bieb warajk. Allura dan lanqas biss bezgha li din thallilu l-bieb miftuh jew taghmillu hsara? Li kieku kelli insemmi hmerijiet ohra ma nispicca qatt. Li weggana hafna huwa li kieku l-investigazzjoni kollha giet iffilmjata jew kien prezenti avukat kieku dawn qatt u qatt ma kienu jitresqu l-qorti. Sitt snin mitlufa minn hajjithom umiljati mitfuha l-habs fuq gidba kollox ghax wiehed minnhom jigi l-gharus tal-kugina taghha. Fil-fatt kull ma gara kien li huma baghtu ghal kugina u din qaltilhom “jekk veru morru l-ghassa u jekk mhux veru tmorrux”. twegga li meta hasbu li ghaddha kollox il-pulizija appellaw li fl-opinjoni tieghi huwa kaz semplici. L-importanti li Alla jaf min hawwad il-borma.
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For those who are interested in this subject it will be good to know that MId-Dlam ghad-Dawl Foundation will be holding a public meeting on the 18th of May about the need of Penal Reform in Malta. A research is also going to be opublished about the plight of prisoners who have not yet been sentenced but are in prison jusst the same. Taking part in the meeting will be Dr Joe Brincat, Dr Aaron Farrugia and Dr Stephen Tonna Lowel. Venue: Attard & Co Foyer (ex Marbelt Stores) Marsa at 6.00pm. Everyone is welcome. More info on 99946 3324
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You got the date wrong...the right to speak to a lawyer was introduced in 2010 which amendments were introduced in 2002...and all statements made prior to this date (unless there are other corroborating evidence) are not accepted as evidence by the courts. They are responsible for your well being and this was made clear by the European Court of Human Rights in various cases under article 2 of the Human Rights Convention. So, no matter what they are liable.