Maltese Laws


One of the anti-divorce arguments is that “what God has joined together can’t be undone by man”. Keeping in mind that the pro-divorce movement is only asking for a divorce in the case of civil marriages not faith ones, this argument goes directly against the principle of a secular country.

However, even worse than that, I find this outright offensive and discriminatory towards those thousands of Maltese citizens who are either atheist or agnostic. Offensive not only towards the civil right to divorce, but also a more basic right – getting married.

How could “God” unite two people when at least one of them does not even believe that God exists? Should these person/s deny their lack of belief and pretend they believe in God in order to be ‘awarded’ the right to get married?

Unfortunately, as to how much secular a country should be there seems to be quite a controversy. However there is nearly a consensus that everyone can practice whatever religion s/he wants unless it breaks the country’s criminal laws. Yet, while not believing in God and getting married are not criminal offenses, this argument that only God joins people in marriage is a grave denial rights towards the largest religious minority in our country.

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A few years ago, a man escaped from prison with only one goal in mind: to kill another person, knowing that this would make him a murderer apart from thief, and that most likely he would never get out of prison in alive. However, the killing did not only make him a murderer. It also a made him a hero in the community, because the victim was not only hated in the neighborhood, but worse still – feared. He was a usurer and used to keep the prison escapee’s mother, along with a number of other people in the community, in constant terror.

A few days ago, another well known usurer was murdered. By the time of writing, it is still not sure whether the murder is related to usury. What is sure is that there are a number of people in his community that consider the murderer as God sent.

Having said that, I must say like I did many times before that I am against any kind of vigilantism (taking the law in your hands). Whatever the reasons, these situations are cases of murder and should be punished (though I do expect a more lenient sentence if the man you killed had been terrifying you or your family). However, vigilantism should not only be stopped by punishment but also by justice. Usury is still not considered as a severe crime, and sometimes it is even punished with just a suspended sentence. This is mostly due to the fact that in many situations while the illegal lending of money could be proven without reasonable doubt, the threats and violence couldn’t.

Thus the laws on the illegal lending of money should be stepped up. Even if there are no threats and violence or can’t be proven.

Contrary to the way the law is, I believe that usury should be considered as a more serious crime than drug trafficking. A drug dealer is selling a deadly substance. A substance that will get, or keep a person hooked up on it possibly for life. It will probably make his life a living hell, and eventually kill him. However, unlike the victim of usury, the drug addict still has a choice. As hard as it is he can still have his life back by rehabilitating himself, and the drug dealer can do nothing to stop this. The victim of usury usually has no more say in his life. If the victim had been a drug addict or a gambler, no amount of rehab and therapy will stop the usurer from getting his money back, with the astronomic interests.

Victims of usury have very limited options, all of them negative to themselves as well as to the rest of society. Basically these are: engaging in criminal activity to get the money, suicide, murdering their oppressor or fleeing the country.

I’ve worked with victims of usury, and would like to end this article with a chilling account one young mother told me:

“When pay time is approaching, I see him there daily. From 6.00 a.m his car will be parked in front of my house and he watches, just watches and makes his presence felt. When I go out with Jamie he just gazes at him. He’s just 3 years old, but realises that the man is watching him. I tell him he is a crazy man but is harmless, he just looks at people and does nothing. Which is true mind you, he just looks. However that’s because I pay him a hefty sum each month. I’ve already paid him three times as much the original sum he has lent me.”

We see many issues in the daily news which are of no much relevance, storm in teacups. Yet we rarely hear about usury. Unfortunately this is not because it doesn’t exist. It exists and how. It’s just because the victims are afraid to speak up. They know the law will not protect them. And when they get hit by a car or thrown off a bridge, media wise, it is just another unfortunate accident or a suicide