Child Commissioner calls on legislators to make it illegal for minors to accompany hunters

Children's Commissioner Pauline Miceli calls for amendments to the Arms Act to protect children from physical harm caused by weapons during hunting • Kaċċaturi San Ubertu accuses Miceli of being influenced by BirdLife's 'indoctrination'

Commissioner for Children Pauline Miceli
Commissioner for Children Pauline Miceli

The Commissioner for Children Pauline Miceli has called on authorities to address inconsistencies in the Arms Act to ban minors from accompanying adults during hunting.

The statement comes after BirdLife Malta released footage of a child handling a gun, and firing it, while out hunting. The footage also shows the gun misfiring after it was dropped.

Miceli called on authorities to pass the necessary amendments to the Arms Act “to close this dangerous gap” in Malta’s legislation.

“The Office does not have a position or agenda in respect of hunting as this is outside its remit. Its concern lies solely in ensuring there are necessary and sufficient safeguards in place to protect children from physical harm caused by the use of weapons,” she said.

Commenting on the incident, she said regardless of whether the child seen in the footage is old enough to be held criminally responsible for his actions, they were carried out with the blessing of, and without sufficient oversight by the accompanying adult.

“This renders the child a victim of the adult’s criminal behaviour,” she said.

The Office of the Commissioner also expressed its dismay at the incident.

On Monday, BirdLife Malta also called on authorities to prohibit hunters from being accompanied by minors while hunting.

“I believe it is high time the law clearly prohibits hunters having any children under 18 with them. No one can deny this is the right thing to do and send a disciplined message,” BirdLife CEO Mark Sultana said.

Meanwhile, hunting organisation Kaċċaturi San Ubertu insisted that children should not be denied the right to accompany their parents, while hunting.

"Although KSU agrees that people under-18, which is the age at which a hunting licence is issued in Malta, should not be allowed to use a firearm, even in the presence of a licenced hunter, we consider BirdLife's request as arrogant and discriminatory towards children and the hunting hobby," the organisation said, adding children would be denied the right to spend time in their parent's field during the hunting season.

KSU also called out the Children's Commissioner for being influenced by "BirdLife's indoctrination" and failing to distinguish between the illegal act committed by an individual and others who would like to spend time with their children to pass on the hunting tradition.