Magistrate Joe Mifsud has today opted to go beyond the sentencing of a case regarding illegal trapping and came up with an unfounded opinion in relation to the size of the nets used for trapping. The Hon. Clint Camilleri has recently stated in Parliament that the size of the nets was agreed between the Government of Malta and the European Commission.
One has to keep in mind that Malta derogates from the European Birds Directive to allow thousands of trappers to trap birds. BirdLife Malta remains consistent in its position against any form of trapping of wild birds, in line with the same Birds’ Directive.
While the law courts’ important role in society remains to listen fairly to cases and judge according to the facts provided, they should always keep an arm’s length from any controversial and possibly political topics.
Magistrate Mifsud has not done this and has risked his position as being seen as an unbiased person of integrity as should be with every member of the judiciary.
Even worse is his opinion related to the scientific study of birds, known as bird ringing. BirdLife Malta has for over 50 years been part of this Europe-wide scientific study under the umbrella of the highly recognised body known as EURING. Hunters and trappers have, for a number of years, been trying to push for bird ringing to be allowed by them. BirdLife Malta does not need to state the obvious reasons why this can never be acceptable. Each bird ringer in Malta is well trained for over two years and gets a special licence to participate in this study.
In this case, Magistrate Mifsud did not only get into a controversy above the sentencing of a case of illegal trapping, but brought in a topic unrelated to the case itself, leading BirdLife Malta to further its suspicions on the real reasons behind this communicated opinion. While it is clear that in our country there is a political will to appease the hunting and trapping lobby, the law courts and the members of the judiciary should always remain impartial to make sure that public and civil society have full faith that anyone breaking the law is met with the fair and adequate consequences.
In view of all this, BirdLife Malta will be taking up the matter with the Commission for the Administration of Justice.
Read the Maltese version of the press release here.