Prohibition of all corporal punishment in Malta (2014)

In February 2014, the Maltese Parliament passed Criminal Code (Amendment No. 3) Act 2014, which amends article 339 of the Criminal Code to effectively prohibit all corporal punishment of children. Prior to reform, the Code had allowed the use of “moderate” corporal punishment within the concept of lawful correction. The 2014 amendment added a clause to the article clarifying that no form of corporal punishment could be considered “moderate”. The amended article 339 now states (emphasis added):

Every person is guilty of a contravention against the person who - … 
h) being authorised to correct any other person, exceeds the bounds of moderation:
Provided that, for the avoidance of any doubt, corporal punishment of any kind shall always be deemed to exceed the bounds of moderation.”

Some legislation must still be formally amended to bring it into line with the prohibition of corporal punishment. The Civil Code 1870 states that a parent may be deprived of the rights of parental authority “if the parent, exceeding the bounds of reasonable chastisement, ill-treats the child, or neglects his education” (art. 154), and the Criminal Code includes a reference to “lawful correction” in article 229. In light of the 2014 reform to article 339 of the Criminal Code, these provisions no longer amount to a defence for the use of corporal punishment in childrearing. Nevertheless, they should be amended/repealed to as to achieve absolute consistency in law. The Office of the Commissioner for Children is advocating for the completion of law reform.

 

Further information

  • Global Initiative country report for Malta
  • Criminal Code (Amendment No. 3) Act 2014 (Maltese)
  • Criminal Code as amended (English)
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