July 2012


I’ve been harping against Malta’s rainbow parties (hence PNPL) that promise everything to everyone, attempting to please all, for a long while by now.

Obviously pleasing everyone is logically impossible when it comes to enacting laws. That is, unless you manage to dupe all sides that you are actually giving them something.

I’ve also been harping many times against Malta’s irrational, unsustainable and utterly cruel laws on drugs. At this very moment, people who harmed no one are rotting in our prisons, at the expense of the taxpayer.

Thus, with national elections in sight, Justice Minister Chris Said, threw a bone at those outraged by our oppressive laws on drugs.

First-time drug users arrested for simple possession will be able to avoid court!

Huh? The bone has no juice at all. Well OK, it will save them the lawyer fees. Otherwise this law changes nothing.

Why?

In practically all cases, people arrested for the first time for simple possession get, at worst, conditional discharge. No prison. No fine. And the police conduct will become clean after the term of the conditional discharge is over. In most cases, for such a minor offence this means in less than a year.

What makes this legal amendment nothing more than a gimmick, is the word “simple” before the word possession.

Contrary to popular belief, simple possession and personal use are not the same thing by Maltese law. Yes, people who never sold a single gram of any illegal drug can – and are being – accused and convicted of crimes the equivalent of trafficking. Crimes that carry a minimum effective prison sentence – in other words a sentence that cannot be suspended, or even changed for work in the community!

How? The following cases of possession of drugs fall in this category. They may be cases of possession but it is not “simple”.

1) Cultivation: Any kind of cultivation of illegal drugs (the most common being cannabis) is punished with an effective prison sentence. Even if the amount is so small that when consumed doesn’t even get your cat high. If it’s in a pot and grows from a seed, that’s cultivation. You’re going to jail.

2) Import/Export: If, while getting high in Amsterdam you forgot to throw all the stuff away before boarding the plane. If you left some weed by mistake, or intended to smoke it at home. Even if, once again, the amount is miniscule, that’s still not simple possession. That’s import. You’re going to jail.

3) Sharing: Most drug users share drugs. Cannabis users pass a spliff around. Heroin addicts sometimes share the same spoon and needle (which is very dangerous, but goes beyond the purpose of this article). Friends may buy LSD or Ecstasy together and share it. No intent for profit, nothing more than the equivalent of “ghamillu drink” at the bar. If the police want to seek the pound of flesh and are able to prove it is not simple possession. It’s sharing. You’re going to jail.

People are, at this very moment in prison because their possession was “aggravated” due to of one of the reasons above. And after this legal amendment, this gimmick, passes, people guilty of these offences, will keep on going to jail. It changes nothing.

There are, obviously other serious anomalies in our laws on drugs which are not being addressed. Repeated offenders of even simple possession can and do get imprisoned. There is also no classification between soft and hard drugs which gives an incentive for dealers to import hard drugs, where the big money is. Not to mention the fact that punishment for anything related to drugs is disproportionately harsh especially when compared to violent crime.

But even on the issue that this law is supposed to address – not sending first time drug users to jail – this law changes nothing. The ones affected by this law are the ones who wouldn’t have been going to jail anyway.

Advertisements

Before I start writing this I want to make it amply clear that I neither know the officers who allegedly killed Mamadi Kamara not knew Mr Kamara himself. The only information on the killing I’ve got is what I read on the media and the content of this blog is about the reaction to the killing and not the killing itself. I believe that everyone is innocent until proved guilty and what’s written here has nothing to do with the guilt or otherwise of the accused.

It is a natural thing that when someone enters in police/army custody alive and gets out dead, there is a sense of shock in the community. Except for people with some particular partisan agenda, most of the population is mainly interested in one thing: The Truth.

I must admit that what shocked me most in the killing of Mr Kamara is not the fact that he was killed (voluntarily or not). Sure, that is shocking in itself, but considering Malta’s irrational long-term mandatory detention policy, Detention Service was just an accident waiting to happen.

What really shocked me was the reaction on the online media by certain sectors who have no interest in knowing what really happened and want to show “Solidarity with the AFM” on the case.

Solidarity on what exactly? Murder?

Yes, there are people amongst us who are not interested in knowing the truth but absolve the alleged murderers on the basis that what they did, whatever the circumstances, was justified. Some started repeating the usual urban legends such as “the immigrants spit on the officers….”, “the officers have a tough job….” so on and so forth. Others, though they sugar coated their words were practically saying “What’s the big deal? There are so many blacks, one black less”.

Who are these people?

Most of them are neo-Nazis loyal to Norman Lowell and active members of Imperium Evropa. I use the term neo-Nazi here not for the dramatic effect of the word but because this is not the typical far right party like those of Marine Le Pen or Geert Wilders but pure undiluted Nazism. Holocaust denial, hatred for Jews (rodents, grieden tad-drenagg), biological racism, mass deportations and the execution of traitors. You name it, you got it. (Which makes me wonder what they really deny about the Holocaust considering that all the elements are there, except maybe, for the gas chambers)
They are the lunatic fringe, no? So why are you worried?

I don’t find the fact that they exist worrying. Every country, society, race or religion has its fair share of freaks.

What I do find worrying is the fact that they’re crawling out of the website where they post anonymously (www.vivamalta.org – where they repeatedly stated I should be arrested and hanged for stating my opinion) and filter into more mainstream media. Sure, their comments are many times sugarcoated and start with something like “Everyone should have the right to life, but….”

What is really worrying is the fact that some people in the mainstream are starting to think they have a point.

And yes, this is extremely shocking. Some, because of their anti-immigrant sentiment, naively think this is no big deal. A man is killed in custody, why investigate?

Yes, unless this is taken seriously this will snowball and has the potential of escalating to horrors that those who think the Nazis have a point, can’t even start to imagine.

Killing someone with impunity doesn’t only go against his human rights. It goes against the rule of law and the basic fundamentals of democracy.

This is not a football game (mal-Inglizi jew mat-Taljani). This is a question of individual responsibility. If these people are found guilty it doesn’t mean our officers are evil or racist. It means that there are 3 rotten apples amongst them and that the 3 rotten apples must be held accountable for their actions.