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PM pledges to tackle human trafficking, massage parlours

Justice system, rule of law collapsing - Busuttil

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat pledged to tackle issues like human trafficking and prostitution during the coming legislature. 

Prostitution had been neglected for too long, and the practice of trafficking individuals to be used as sex workers had taken root in Malta, the prime minister acknowledged. Cases of massage parlour workers and clients being marched to court were on the increase, indicating systematic abuse.

The Prime Minister was speaking during the third session of parliament's discussion in reaction to the President's speech.

Dr Muscat said that if the Opposition was in favour, the government was in favour of establishing an agreement to have proportionality between the genders in parliament before the end of the current legislature.

Government was in favour of establishing an agreement to have proportionality between the genders in parliament before the end of the current legislature

Temporary quotas would allow for this proportionality to be achieved if combined with an increase in the number of seats in parliament through established processes for casual election until the next general election. Furthermore, parliament needed to address the issue of parliamentary hours, as the current times did not encourage women and other underrepresented groups to participate in politics.

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said female participation in politics had decreased during the past administration, and the Labour Party had elected less female MPs to its benches during the recent election - 10.8 per cent - when compared to 2013, whereas the Nationalist Party had increased female representation on its benches to 20 per cent. 

Dr Busuttil added that crossbench support for constitutional reform would depend on the inclusion of a reform of the country’s institutions.  said that although the issue of national unity had featured prominently in the president's speech, actions taken by the government immediately after the election had served to undermine it.

He said that although the issue of national unity had featured prominently in the president's speech, actions taken by the government immediately after the election had served to undermine it.

Dr Busuttil condemned ministers’ use of public funds for personal propaganda, and claimed the justice system and the rule of law were in a state of "total collapse". It had been over a year since the Panama Papers scandal, and yet the police and the government had still not taken any action against chief of staff Keith Schembri or Minister Konrad Mizzi.

Opposition spokesman Jason Azzopardi said recently, an individual who had stolen €25,000 from his workplace and laundered it through his girlfriend had lost his house, and was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment and a €30,000 fine. It was clear, Dr Azzopardi said, that the law did not apply equally to everyone. 

"Those who stuck their necks out for what was right had ended up emarginated and, eventually, fired, like the case of the two FIAU employees that had recently lost their jobs."

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