Articles and information
Rights and Obligations
by Mystic Fool
In this article I would like to highlight some legal aspects regarding the freedom of Religion in Malta. The intention is not to query the Constitution or the Laws of Malta but to state the facts as they stand and provide some knowledge. Usually we find a lot of literature of where Pagans and Wiccans stand with the law in the United States of America and the United Kingdom but I never came across anything similar on Malta.
The Constitution of Malta in Chapter One, Article 2 clearly states that:
||(1) The religion of Malta is the Roman Catholic Apostolic
|(2) The authorities of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church
have the duty and the right to teach which principles are right and
which are wrong.|
|(3) Religious teaching of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Faith
shall be provided in all State schools as part of compulsory
The above is self explanatory and very simple to understand. No amount of whining and talking can change the Constitution, only the House of Representatives can carry out amendments and as things stands today, this is only wishful thinking.
Article Ten of Chapter Two states: Primary education shall be compulsory and in State schools shall be free of charge. In the light of Article 3 of Chapter One this means that according to the Constitution all students who attend State schools are to be subjected to the Religious teaching of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church. On this subject see Chapter 40 Article 2, reproduced further down.
Article 32 in Chapter 4 spells out the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the individual:
||Whereas every person in Malta is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely –|
|(a) life, liberty, security of the person, the enjoyment of property and the protection of the law;|
(b) freedom of conscience, of expression and of peaceful assembly and association; and|
(c) respect for his private and family life,|
the subsequent provisions of this Chapter shall have effect for the purpose of affording protection to the aforesaid rights and freedoms, subject to such limitations of that protection as are contained in those provisions being limitations designed to ensure that the enjoyment of the said rights and freedoms by any individual does not prejudice the rights and freedoms of others or the public interest.
This means that every person in Malta is free to choose his creed, if this belief respects the rights and freedoms of others. He or she can express these beliefs alone or with others (peaceful assembly and association). Therefore if a group of Pagans or Wiccans, whom this Constitution is giving the right of association, are holding a peaceful assembly and they are not trespassing on private property or disrespecting the rights of others; should be protected by the law and not harassed by the force created to see that such laws are observed. Therefore no one can be convicted of holding an open air ritual, as long as it is carried out in public space (and not on private property without the consent of the owner) and those gathered are not disturbing the peace of others. With rituals I mean celebrations that within their context no illegality is carried out. For those unfamiliar with Wicca I must point out that rituals do not involve animal / human sacrifice or the consumption of illegal narcotics. Wicca has nothing to do with Satanism.
Article 40 of Chapter Four speaks of Protection of freedom of conscience and worship and is a fundamental subject for the topic I am writing about. In spite of what is declared in Chapter One Article 3, if you do not want your children to receive instruction in religion at school, point 2 of the following Chapter gives you a legal way out.
||(1) All persons in Malta shall have full freedom of conscience and enjoy the free exercise of their respective mode of religious worship.|
|(2) No person shall be required to receive instruction in religion or to show knowledge or proficiency in religion if, in the case of a person who has not attained the age of sixteen years, objection to such requirement is made by the person who according to law has authority over him and, in any other case, if the person so required objects thereto: Provided that no such requirement shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this article to the extent that the knowledge of, or the proficiency or instruction in, religion is required for the teaching of such religion, or for admission to the priesthood or to a religious order, or for other religious purposes, and except so far as that requirement is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.|
|(3) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of subarticle (1), to the extent that the law in question makes provision that is reasonably required in the interests of public safety, public order, public morality or decency, public health, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others, and except so far as that provision or, as the case may be, the thing done under the authority thereof, is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.|
Chapter 41, entitled Protection of freedom of expression is as equally important:
||(1) Except with his own consent or by way of parental discipline, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference (whether the communication be to the public generally or to any person or class of persons) and freedom from interference with his correspondence.|
|(2) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of subarticle (1) of this article to the extent that the law in question makes provision -|
(a) that is reasonably required -
(i) in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or decency, or public health; or
(ii) for the purpose of protecting the reputations, rights and freedoms of other persons, or the private lives of persons concerned in legal proceedings, preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, maintaining the authority and independence of the courts, protecting the privileges of Parliament, or regulating telephony, telegraphy, posts, wireless broadcasting, television or other means of communication, public exhibitions or public entertainments; or
(b) that imposes restrictions upon public officers, and except so far as that provision or, as the case may be, the thing done under the authority thereof is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.
|(3) Anyone who is resident in Malta may edit or print a newspaper or journal published daily or periodically: Provided that provision may be made by law -|
(a) prohibiting or restricting the editing or printing of any such newspaper or journal by persons under twentyone years of age; and
(b) requiring any person who is the editor or printer of any such newspaper or journal to inform the prescribed authority to that effect and of his age and to keep the prescribed authority informed of his place of residence.
|(4) Where the police seize any edition of a newspaper as being the means whereby a criminal offence has been committed they shall within twenty-four hours of the seizure bring the seizure to the notice of the competent court and if the court is not satisfied that there is a prima facie case of such offence, that edition shall be returned to the person from whom it was seized.|
|(5) No person shall be deprived of his citizenship under any provisions made under article 30(1) (b) of this Constitution or of his juridical capacity by reason only of his political opinions.|
Chapter 42 reads out the Protection of the freedom assembly and association:
||(1) Except with his own consent or by way of parental discipline no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of peaceful assembly and association, that is to say, his right peacefully to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to trade or other unions or associations for the protection of his interests.|
|(2) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this article to the extent that the law in question makes provision –< br />
(a) that is reasonably required -< br />
(i) in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or decency, or public health; or< br />
(ii) for the purpose of protecting the rights or freedoms of other persons; or< br />
(b) that imposes restrictions upon public officers, and except so far as that provision or, as the case may be, the thing done under the authority thereof is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.|
|(3) For the purposes of this article, any provision in any law prohibiting the holding of public meetings or demonstrations in any one or more particular cities, towns, suburbs or villages shall be held to be a provision which is not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.|
Chapter 45 is focused on the Protection from discrimination on the grounds of race, etc;
||(1)Subject to the provisions of sub-articles (4), (5) and (7) of this article, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect.|
|(2) Subject to the provisions of sub-articles (6), (7) and (8) of this article, no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting by virtue of any written law or in the performance of the functions of any public office or any public authority.|
|(3) In this article, the expression "discriminatory" means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.|
|(4) Sub-article (1) of this article shall not apply to any law so far as that law makes provision -|
(a) for the appropriation of public revenues or other public funds; or
(b) with respect to persons who are not citizens of Malta; or
(c) with respect to adoption, marriage, dissolution of marriage, burial, devolution of property on death or any matters of personal law not hereinbefore specified; or
(d) whereby persons of any such description as is mentioned in sub-article (3) of this article may be subjected to any disability or restriction or may be accorded any privilege or advantage which, having regard to its nature and to special circumstances pertaining to those persons or to persons of any other such description and to any other provision of this Constitution, is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society; or
(e) for authorising the taking during a period of public emergency of measures that are reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with the situation that exists during that period of public emergency;
Provided that paragraph (c) of this sub-article shall not apply to any law which makes any provision that is discriminatory, either of itself or in its effect by affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective description by sex.
|(5) Nothing contained in any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of sub-article (1) of this article to the extent that it makes provision:|
(a) with respect to qualifications for service or conditions of service in any disciplined force; or
(b) with respect to qualifications (not being qualifications specifically relating to sex) for service as a public officer or for service of a local government authority or a body corporate established for public purposes by any law.
|(6) Sub-article (2) of this article shall not apply to anything which is expressly or by necessary implication authorised to be done by any such provision of law as is referred to in sub-article (4) or (5) of this article.|
|(7) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this article to the extent that the law in question makes provision (not being provisions specifically relating to sex) whereby persons of any such description as is mentioned in sub-article (3) of this article may be subjected to any restriction on the rights and freedoms guaranteed by articles 38, 40, 41, 42 and 44 of this Constitution, being such a restriction as is authorised by article 38(2), 40(2), 41(2), 42(2) or 44(3).|
|(8) Nothing in sub-article (2) of this article shall affect any discretion relating to the institution, conduct or discontinuance of civil or criminal proceedings in any court that is vested in any person by or under this Constitution or any other law.|
|(9) A requirement, however made, that the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion shall be taught by a person professing that religion shall not be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this article.|
|(10) Until the expiration of a period of two years commencing on the lst July, 1991, nothing contained in any law made before the 1st July, 1991, shall be held to be inconsistent with the provisions of this article, in so far as that law provides for different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective description by sex.|
|(11) Nothing in the provisions of this article shall apply to any law or anything done under the authority of a law, or to any procedure or arrangement, in so far as such law, thing done, procedure or arrangement provides for the taking of special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between men and women, and in so far only as such measures, taking into account the social fabric of Malta, are shown to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.|
I know that laws are boring to read, but sometimes knowledge of the law may come handy. If common sense is used and care is taken as not to disturb the peace of others (example with loud singing or drumming during the night) and to abide with the regulations (such as not entering private property and not lighting fires in the woods, etc.) no harm will come your way. Your rights are spelled out in the Constitution but bear in mind that your obligations are there too.
If it harms none, do what you will.