Murder victims and their families have rights too

19 April 2022

In January 2021, we published a timeline showing how Malta’s weak criminal justice system shores up impunity, making murder possible. Barely a year later, it is disturbing to see that, because of inefficiencies in the criminal justice system, a man out on bail for attempted murder in 2020 has now been implicated in a stabbing murder this month, and that one of the accused in a separate double-murder case could be granted bail automatically even though there is a serious risk of him absconding to evade due process.

When someone is accused of murder, it must be remembered that there is a victim whose rights must be protected through the actions and decisions of institutions that make up the criminal justice system. Murder victims’ rights persist after their death. Those rights are inherited by the victim’s family and the state has an obligation to protect them.

While all are equal before the law, not all are equal within the criminal justice system. To allow a situation where people implicated in murder are able to claim and enjoy their rights at the expense of their victims’ is to aggravate the injustice already suffered by the victims themselves. Malta urgently needs to address the weaknesses that shore up impunity. As recent history shows, the price for not doing so will be paid in blood.