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Magistrate, lawyer first female judges

Magistrate Abigail Lofaro and lawyer Anna Felice are to be Malta's first women judges.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi made the announcement yesterday following a Cabinet decision in which he also said that another female lawyer, Audrey Demicoli, has been nominated magistrate.

Dr Gonzi said the Cabinet had decided to consolidate under one roof what he called the myriad tribunals that had sprouted up over the years.

The move, he said, would avoid the duplication of resources in a number of areas. There will be one establishment with different specialisations rather than a range of different tribunals.

The proposal will be published in a White Paper and discussed in parliament as soon as possible. However, the move to a one-stop-shop would have to be gradual, he added.

The news has reaffirmed the Prime Minister's reputation for promoting women to high posts.

In 2004, Cecilia Attard Pirotta became the first woman permanent secretary when she was appointed top civil servant at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Investment Promotion.

Dr Lofaro was appointed magistrate in 1996 after working for several commissions and government departments and being involved, among other things, in the Law Reform Commission, headed by Edgar Mizzi.

Dr Felice graduated in 1981 and served on the Commission for the Advancement of Women and was a member of the group that drafted the 1993 family law reform. She was a consultant on the Family Court and chaired the Mediation Centre. She was a member of the Curia's sexual abuse investigations response team and a member of the electoral commission.

Dr Demicoli has chaired the small claims tribunal for six years, has been an arbiter at the department for social security, has presided over the industrial tribunal and served as a commissioner for justice at the Valletta local council.

More changes are expected at the law courts after three of the country's most senior judges, Chief Justice Vincent DeGaetano, Mr Justice Joseph D. Camilleri and Mr Justice Joseph A. Filletti, were short listed to succeed Judge Giovanni Bonello at the European Court of Human Rights.

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