Opposition says abrogative referendum on hunting ‘is civil right’

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil pours cold water over hunters' claims that abrogative referendum would be contrary to EU accession treaty.

Over 40,000 signatures were collected in a petition to hold an abrogative referendum on spring hunting
Over 40,000 signatures were collected in a petition to hold an abrogative referendum on spring hunting

The Opposition has told the Constitutional Court that a referendum abrogating spring hunting was not contrary to Malta’s EU accession treaty.

In a reply filed in court and signed by Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said he fully believed in the right of the electorate to use the referendum instrument to vote against a law. “The use of an abrogative referendum is a civil right that should not be limited except by the provisions of the Referendum Act.”

Busuttil said that an abrogative referendum would not be contrary to the Malta’s Treaty of Accession to the European Union, which instrument does not limit the public from making use of an abrogative referendum.

Hunters’ organisations FKNK and KSU claim that a referendum to abolish spring hunting would impinge upon the rights of a minority.

Apart from filing objections in court over a petition signed by over 40,000 calling for a referendum against spring hunting, they have also petitioned MPs to change the Referenda Act so that abrogative referenda would not be held on “minority rights and interests”.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, through the Attorney General’s office, has dismissed the hunters’ request for the court to reject the anti-spring-hunting petition.

The government rejected claims that the process used by the Electoral Commission to verify the petition signatures was illegal.

It will be the Constitutional Court to decide whether a referendum can be held in 2015 to abrogate the spring hunting law.

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