Court provisionally upholds BirdLife Malta request for prohibitory injunction

April 3, 2023 7:50 pm

Today, the 3rd of April, BirdLife Mata filed a request for a prohibitory injunction in Court against the Government in order to stop it from issuing the legal notice that effectively would open a spring hunting season for the Vulnerable Turtle-dove. The request, that was signed by Dr Claire Bonello and Dr Martin Farrugia, was within a few hours provisionally upheld by Judge Giovanni Grixti.

The European Turtle-dove – a Vulnerable species that should not be hunted in spring (Photo by Aron Tanti)

Government unable to issue legal notice to open Turtle-dove spring hunting until hearing

This warrant of prohibitory injunction is very similar to that filed last year by BirdLife Malta and that was presided by Judge Audrey Demicoli. The main difference is that this time, the injunction is being requested to stop the legal notice from being issued, whereas that of last year was filed after the legal notice was published. In fact, this was the main technical argument which the State Advocate had insisted upon and that was accepted by Judge Demicoli, leading her to decide the case against BirdLife Malta at that time.

Another difference is the fact that since the first warrant of prohibitory injunction, the Maltese Government has received direct communication from the European Commissioner for Environment, along with a new infringement process that was initiated by the European Commission against Malta with regards to the spring hunting season for European Turtle-dove. These warnings were issued since the Vulnerable status of the Turtle-dove does not allow for any derogation from the European Birds Directive to hunt this species in spring.

BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana stated: “There is no shadow of doubt that the spring hunting season on Turtle-doves in Malta goes against the EU’s Birds Directive. The Directive is very clear that hunting in spring is illegal, while the fact that the status of the Turtle-dove is Vulnerable – as declared by the IUCN and accepted by the EU – adds more value to the need for each EU Member State to protect it whilst migrating to its breeding grounds. The European Union’s Directives are the law that each and every Member State needs to enact within their local legislation. The local legislation can never in any way go against the European directives, mainly because these are overarching above all local legislation, including our constitutional laws. The local courts are therefore also responsible to safeguard the EU’s directives”.

The hearing on the prohibitory injunction temporarily accepted today has been appointed for the 18th of April 2023.

Read the Maltese version of the press release here.