Amnesty for people who disregarded social distancing rules dilutes law enforcement, Godfrey Farrugia says

Independent MP Godfrey Farrugia says any amnesty to those who disregarded their civic duty during the COVID-19 pandemic should ‘at least’ translate fine into community work

Independent MP Godfrey Farrugia
Independent MP Godfrey Farrugia

An amnesty for those found in breach of social distancing rules is disrespectful to all the front liners, including police officers who enforced the law, independent MP Godfrey Farrugia said.

He criticised the Prime Minister’s decision to consider an amnesty, adding that at the very least, fines due should be translated into community work.

Farrugia said in parliament on Monday that he was not against a law that was applied humanely but there had to be red lines.

“Giving an amnesty to those who disregarded their own health and that of others, or to those who have no civic duty, sends out the message that law enforcement has been diluted,” Farrugia said.

People found in breach of public gathering rules are liable to a €100 fine. The rules that limit public gatherings were introduced to minimise the risk of virus spread after the COVID-19 pandemic hit Malta. 

Farrugia added that at the very least, the fine should have been translated into community work and not completely forgiven.

“At the very least these people should be made to deliver food to the elderly who have been locked at home, or pick up the phone and call someone who is lonely… and this also applies to all the Floriana FC fans,” Farrugia said.

Robert Abela said on Sunday that he would like to see a mechanism that would give an amnesty to genuine cases of people who were fined because they did not observe social distancing in public.

The suggestion caused uproar and elicited a negative reaction from two police unions, doctors, nurses and many other people.

On Monday, Abela insisted he was not referring to a blanket amnesty but admitted that there already are mechanisms in place that enable people to contest their fine.

It remains unclear what fresh mechanism the Prime Minister wants to introduce but an amnesty implies that someone who was found guilty by a tribunal would be pardoned.

READ ALSO: Amnesty criticism was ‘unjust’ as Robert Abela blames media for public outcry

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