LOCKED OUT : FTEHIM BEJN IL-MINISTERU TAL-INTERN, IS-SIGURTA NAZZJONALI U L-INFURZAR TAL-LIGI U L-FONDAZZJONI MID-DLAM GHAD-DAWL 17/12/20

Diskors tal-Onor. Byron Camilleri

Ftehim

Diskors tac-chairperson ta MDD is sur George Busuttil

Diskors minn Dr Charlie Azzopardi minn IFT Malta

Fis- 17 ta’ Dicembru 2020, il-Ministeru tal-Intern, Sigurta’ Nazzjonali u l-Infurzar tal-Ligi iffirmaw ftehim mal-Fondazzjoni Mid-Dlam Ghad-Dawl li permezz tieghu, MDD, bil-kollaborazzjoni ta’ IFT Malta (Institute of Family Therapy) se tibda tinghata ghajnuna ta’ terapija professjonali lill-familjari tal-prigunieri u l-familji taghhom. B’dan il-ftehim, il-Ministeru tal-Intern se jkun qed jaghti kważi nofs miljun ewro fi 3 snin lill-Fondazzjoni Mid-Dlam Ghad-Dawl biex tinghata din l-ghajnuna.

 

Il-progett beda jinhema meta saret ricerka mal familji ta’ min qieghed il habs fl 2016. Din indikat b’mod car hafna li l-familji u t-tfal ta dawk li qed jiskontaw sentenza, jintilfu fis sistema minghajr ma jircievu l-ghajnuna necessarja biex ikampaw u biex jimxu l-quddiem fil hajja. Hafna minn dawn il familji jispiccaw zvantaggati bir riskju li jintilfu fil faqar socjali. Meta persuna mbghad tiskonta s-sentenza u tohrog lura fil hajja ta kuljum issib ma wicca l-ghawg li trid terga tibda kollox mil gdid. Fil-verita’ biex tgħin fir-riabilitazzjoni u r-riforma ta’ dawk li jispiċċaw il-ħabs ma tistax tifred il-problemi tagħhom minn dawk ta’ familthom.

 

Ir-ricerka turi wkoll li għandna numru ta’ familji li wħud minn fosthom ilhom jeħlu sentenzi ta’ priġunerija għal tlieta u erba’ ġenerazzjonijiet. Tfal minn dawn il-familji donnu li bilfors iridu jimitaw lil ta’ qabilhom u jagħmlu dik l-esperjenza.

 

Minn Jannar bdejna noffru sessjonijiet ta’ terapija lil min jinsab f’din is-sitwazzjoni. Dawk kollha li jixtiequ l-ghajnuna biex jibbenefikaw minn dan is-servizz jistghu jikkuntattjaw lil Fondazzjoni Mid-Dlam Ghad-Dawl jew lil Institute of Family Therapy. Tistghu ukoll iccemplu fuq 77778001.

Custodial Officers’ Decalogue

These rules were reprinted in an in-service training bulletin for correctional officers. The origin of these rules is unknown.

I.

IN A TEMPERATE AND TOLERANT MANNER always imply that you expect the correct attitude from inmates and fellow employees. Don’t expect trouble expediting any issue. Never show the slightest uncertainty as to the course of your action. You must be a leader in the strongest sense of the word, for your integrity as an officer is forever in an extremely hazardous position. You must know the exact limits of your authority. Never show that you have been angered personally by being profane, vulgar, or abusive in any manner.

II.

KEEP A PROPER SENSE OF PROPORTION. Do not make a tremendous issue over some minor matter and then let a larger situation get out of hand because of lack of knowledge or fear to tackle it.

III.

HAVE A SOUND KNOWLEDGE of the general custodial requirements of your institution, the chain of command, the basic impact of educational and recreational needs, and the great potential of spiritual guidance.

IV.

DO NOT FAIL TO SHOW RESPECT. The inmate, as a personality, is usually a reasonable human being. Allow him to express himself, for respect is the basic factor in discipline, and to be most effective, discipline must be sure and impersonal.

V.

EXPRESS YOUR APPRECIATION when behavior is commendable. Inmates and fellow employees are just as grateful for praise as you are and it seems sometimes that precious little is offered. The appreciation you show today may eliminate tomorrow’s discipline.

VI.

NEVER REFUSE A REASONABLE REQUEST. When refusing a request, explain why it is necessary and express your regrets.

VII.

NEVER ENDEAVOUR TO PUNISH AN ENTIRE GROUP; however, when it becomes necessary, explain why it is. If any loophole can be left for the clearly innocent, leave it.

VIII.

NEVER THREATEN DISCIPLINE. Be sure that when discipline becomes necessary, it will be enforceable and upheld by your superiors. When you find it necessary to invoke the aid of your superior in enforcing discipline, give him all the facts and reasons and these should be in writing. Your superior has as much or more at stake than you have, but don’t expect him to be a mind reader.

IX.

NEVER USE UNNECESSARY FORCE to gain control of any situation. To proceed with force beyond control the treatment then becomes brutal. An officer exercising brutality is liable in the strictest sense.

X.

CREATE GOOD PUBLIC RELATIONS. Treat all visitors with the utmost of courtesy. Avoid propaganda and disloyalty. Extend your efforts beyond your immediate correctional horizons and contribute to the general welfare of your community.

 

L-10 Kmandamenti tal-Gwardjani

Dawn ir-regoli kienu dehru f’bulettin ghal gwardjani li kienu qeghdin jaghmlu kors ta’ tahrig. Min kitibhom m’huwiex maghruf. Il-versjoni Maltija saret minn Mid-Dlam ghad-Dawl (Daritama).

I.

B’MOD KALM U TOLLERANTI dejjem implika li tistenna attitudni tajba mir-residenti u minn shabek il-haddiema l-ohra. Tippretendix li bl-ghajjat se tirrenga xi haga. Turi qatt l-icken indecizjoni f’dak li tkun bi hsiebek taghmel. Trid tkun ‘leader’ fis-sens l-aktar qawwi tal-kelma, ghaliex l-integrità tieghek bhala ufficjal hija dejjem f’pozizzjoni mill-aktar perikoluza. Trid tkun taf bl-ezatt il-limiti ta’ l-awtorità tieghek. Turi qatt li gejt imwegga’ jew irrabjat personalment billi ssir pastas, baxx jew oxxen b’xi mod.

II.

ZOMM DEJJEM SENS TA’ PROPORZJON. Haga zghira, iggibhiex bi kbira, u mbaghad sitwazzjoni akbar thallieha tahrablekminntaht idejk ghax ma tkunx informat bizzejjed jew ghax ma tafx kif se ggib ruhek maghha.

III.

INFORMA RUHEK SEW fuq dak li b’mod generali jistennew minnek ir-regoli tal-habs; fuq il-livelli ta’ l-awtorità li tigi fuqek; xi bzonnijiet joholqu fin-nies in-nuqqas ta’ edukazzjoni u sfog; u l-qawwa kbira li ghandu parir spiritwali.

IV.

TONQOS QATT MILLI TURI RISPETT. Generalment, resident huwa persuna regonevoli. Hallih jesprimi lilu nnifsu, ghax ir-rispett huwa l-bazi tad-dixxiplina, u biex ikollha l-akbar effett, id-dixxiplina trid tkun zgura u impersonali.

V.

URI L-APPREZZAMENT TIEGHEK meta xi hadd igib ruhu sewwa. Ir-residenti u shabek il-haddiema l-ohra jhobbu daqsek ’l min jurihom gratitudni. Xi kultant donnha nieqsa dik il-ftit tal-ghozza. L-apprezzament li turi llum tista’ tnehhi l-bzonn tad-dixxiplina ghada.

VI.

TIRRIFJUTA QATT TALBA RAGONEVOLI. Meta tichad xi talba, spjega ghaliex jehtieg li jsir hekk u skuza ruhek.

VII.

TIKKASTIGA QATT IL-GRUPP KOLLU; biss, meta jkun hemm bzonn taghmel hekk, spjega ghaliex. Jekk tista’ thalli xi toqba li minnha jista’ johrog l-innocenti, halliha.

VIII.

THEDDED QATT ID-DIXXIPLINA. Qis li meta jkun hemm bzonn id-dixxiplina, tuzaha u tkun appoggjat mis-superjuri tieghek.Metathoss il-bzonn li titlob l-appogg tas-superjur tieghek, aghtih il-fatti u r-ragunijiet kollha mehtiega, u qis li taghmel dan bil-miktub. Is-superjur tieghek ghandu x’jitlef daqsek, imma tistenniex li jista’ jaqralek mohhok.

IX.

TUZA QATT FORZA META M’HEMMX BZONNHA biex tikkontrolla sitwazzjoni. Jekk tibda bil-forza, imbaghad il-bqija jkollu jsir bil-hruxija. Ufficjal li juza l-hruxija jrid iwiegeb ghal ghemilu.

X.

OHLOQ RELAZZJONIJIET TAJBA MA’ BARRANIN. Ittratta lill-vizitaturi bl-akbar edukazzjoni. Evita l-propaganda u l-wicc b’iehor. Ipprova ghamel ftit aktar sforz milli d-dmirijiet tieghek ta’ gwardjan jitolbu u aghti sehemek ghall-kuntentizza ta’ haddiehor.

An interview with Rev. Dr Mark Montebello OP

Head of a prisoners’ self-help group, often in the line of fire from the Maltese Church, Fr Mark Montebello thrives under pressure and criticism. Mario Schembri Wismayer delves deep into this complex person in an effort to understand him.

 

A monk

I ask how long Fr Montebello has been a monk. “I entered in 1980 at 16. I was always close to the Dominicans. In 1989 I graduated and went toRome. That period of my life was uneventful.” I ask Fr Montebello why he chose the Dominican Order. “My family was close to the Dominicans of Sliema. To me it was an obvious choice. I used to know them personally.” So when did he realise that he had a vocation? “Certain things used to preoccupy me. A lot of youths used to gather on the Sliema front in those days. I used to consider them to be sheep without a shepherd and I used to wish to help them. Then I started to spend weekends with the priests. One clue was that I did not like it when it was time to leave them. One takes care of one’s affairs; you avoid relationships and you study in order to join. I was always fascinated by the idea of giving all my time and commitment to Jesus.”

Mid-Dlam ghad-Dawl

What caused him to set up Mid-Dlam ghad-Dawl? “Actually it was the prisoners who se t it up in 1995. When the two main ones left prison they asked me to help them. I freely accepted. I did not set it up. I was introduced to it. The prisoners called it by the name it has. So as a group coming from the roots I thought it was worth giving it my all. Today it includes volunteers, families and others. It started in 1995 at the time of Jim Roland – he was head of the prison. He was experimenting and the prisoners set up this group while he was head. Other self help groups which started at the time have finished.” I ask what the main functions of the group are. “The main functions are that of being a partner with the authorities and justice administrators – we work alongside them for the improvement of justice inMalta. We are a group of professionals. We provide advice and support in improving the structures of the penal system. We are an uncompromising enemy of criminality – be it large or small, but we are also an untiring defender of the prisoners’ future possibility to become a normal citizen. Whatever we do it is to safeguard that possibility.” How many people are involved in running this organisation? “I don’t work with large numbers. We have a fixed set of people. We share our lives and form each other through the help of the prisoners.”

Wording with prisoners

I ask Fr Montebello to explain further. “Formation means instruction in the system as well as in the humanity of the movement. We train to look at the person behind the prisoner. What we really look at is the beauty within; what once was and what may be again one day. That needs a lot of faith, study and sharing. We let the prisoner change us; we change the way we see things like justice, crime and persons. The prisoner is our catalyst of change. We all train ourselves in this spirituality. It is all about learning how to distinguish between the sinner and the sin. There is what you do and there is what you are. We condemn the sin but understand and assist the sinner. The bigger the sin, the bigger the sinner, and the bigger our mercy. We are 17 committed persons, most of them professionals within the correctional system. We do have contact with the actual wardens but it is illegal for the wardens to be part of this group. Most have a degree in the social sciences, but there are others – managers, an IT expert…”

Society’s criticism

I ask Fr Mark for his reaction to people who say that prisoners are paying their just desserts and that nothing extra should be done to help them. “The most unfortunate thing that could happen to society and to the actual and future potential victims, is that a person leaves prison worse than when he entered it and that is what is happening. Prison should be at the service of society. People should pay their dues, but it should not only be a place of punishment but also a place of therapy, where people are healed from the causes of crime. Actually people who say that there should be no help are illogical because they say they want to benefit society, but simple incarceration is not beneficial to society; it is making things worse. So when we defend the possibility of a prisoner to live happily and uphold the laws of the land, we are actually contributing to the benefit of society.”

Giving chances

I ask the monk if he believes in giving people a second chance. “I believe in giving real chances, that is, all round help. For instance, when a magistrate gives a person a probation order, without any help whatsoever to him or his family, it is impossible that that person benefits from that probation. It is a question of giving a real chance. Today we have prisoners who unfortunately cannot be helped if not with the greatest of efforts. These are mature men, moulded by the system itself. If there were only those we would help them, but there are so many people who can be helped and who have a real chance of changing that we have to focus on them.”

Society’s share

I ask what proportion of a criminal’s blame can be placed on the doorstep of society. The word society is a little too vague; it includes too much. The common people are not responsible for housing or employment. On the other hand, some people may help; employers may be more sensitive to ex-prisoners and the problems they meet on the place of work. These people tend to get the blame for everything. We had many cases where when people are asked for their criminal records after their probation period, they usually leave the next day because they assume that they are not going to be engaged. When we talk about society helping, we must include the prison itself, government, which does not, in principle, employ ex-convicts, which is a great scandal, the unions, the employers. The ETC does help out these prisoners and this is commendable. They have training programmes.”

Apology

In the past Mid-Dlam ghad-Dawl and myself have appeared to be very demanding. And that gave the impression that we’re very critical about what the government tries to do in this field. Sometimes I myself used very sharp words in this regard. I realise, now, that we did not appreciate enough the difficulties involved in bringing forward certain reforms. I realise this now, and I would like to apologise to anyone who may have been hurt by undue criticism.

We thought that people might have moved faster. We thought that our particular point of view would have been understood. But I do realise now that it is not easy to understand, and I do acknowledge that. I would like to provoke your readers to understand that as Christians we should try to understand what Jesus meant when he said: “Love your enemies”, which is a very profound and provoking statement which I think is absolutely true.

Difficult cases

I ask how Fr Montebello would deal with a paedophile or a serial killer? “Without specialised help little can be done. Giving people prison sentences and nothing else, cannot help; the greater the illness the more drastic the cure has to be. You don’t throw a sick person into bed without giving a cure – you can’t expect him to cure himself. You can’t expect a child molester to go to prison for three years and come out cured; that’s idiotic, actually. Admittedly, these are the most difficult questions. Paedophilia is still not really understood scientifically and this makes helping out more difficult.”

Study abroad

I ask if Fr Montebello studied abroad. “I studied inRomewhere I read philosophy – Plato – and inMadridwhere I studied Aristotle. I also studied ecclesiology in Brazil” I ask if he is influenced by the writings and teachings of anybody in particular “There is a branch of philosophy that we call personalism – I adhere to this ideology – that the human person is the most basic- the foundation stone of all that we call reality. Everything is a construct of the mind and that is the fundamental of everything. The human person is the centre of all consideration. If you change the constructs, you can change everything.”

Clash with the Church

I bring up a controversial subject. I point out that in the past Fr Montebello had fallen foul of the Church authorities. I ask him to mention the incidents that brought about this state of affairs. “We have different ecclesiologies – we understand the Church differently. The authorities inMaltaproject a monolithic Church – there is one way of being catholic; anything else is heresy or apostasy. I say that this is not true; for example, the recent manifesto of Alternattiva Demokratika, called for those who co-habit to be given certain rights. The Church said this should not be. As if this is the only opinion of the Church! Abroad the Church has certain pastoral attitudes to people who live like this. InMaltathe monolithic Church is somewhat intolerant. Another example would be the Church’s attitude towards homosexuals. It is not a question of doctrine but of politics. It is not a question of doctrine.”

What happened

I make sure that I am understanding him by distinguishing between the monk’s reservations about what is morally wrong and how the Church reacts to what is wrong. I ask Fr Mark if he disagrees with the Church when it is a question of doctrine “Of course not” So he only disagrees on the basis of how to react? “Exactly.” Harking back to the original cause, I ask Fr Montebello to tell me what happened. “It was a series of programmes on the then Live FM. The first set of programmes was called “The Truth will set us free”. It dealt with morals and religious subjects. That was stopped and I began another programme which was called ‘The strength of the will’ which was basically philosophy and that was stopped too. After that there was the ban of a year.”

Reaction

I ask how Fr Montebello reacted to this, as a person. “It follows very logically with what the Church inMaltathinks itself to be. The same problem was created last year when I published a book about Maltese philosophy. Again the Church objected on some items, especially where the book touched upon religion in very lay terms. You have a clash of two models of the Church.” I ask how come the priest embraced this very different model “First when I was still inMalta– it was a decision I took for saying the truth – to be always saying the truth. Secondly I was influenced during a study visit toBrazilunder the tutorship of Fr John Xerri. But not only that. You need to see that every view is not exclusive and the fact that A is in opposition to B does not make one right and the other wrong; they can both be wrong or right.” I ask if this is only characteristic to theChurchofBrazil. “It began there. It is just another world view. That was the beginning of what later led to my assimilating certain outlooks. What worries me about the local Church is that it is making itself irrelevant. And sometimes because of its monolithic structure and understanding of itself it actually decides to exile itself. A case in point is the conscious abdication to involve itself meaningfully in the EU debate, simply because it does not see any other position where it is not forced to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It should not side with yes or no; it should side withMalta. This image of a wholesome monolith is very, very weak. The Church inMaltais one of the few institutions which can do a lot of good in this country and yet we are in this situation. I blame all this on the weak leadership of the Church“

I point out that under Gonzi the Church was more monolithic “Yes, but at least we knew where we were. I think that Gonzi had phases. There were times he was very social minded but then he was incensed personally against Mintoff. But the Church never understood Mintoff and Dimech – two great men of the century.“

A changing Church

Did Fr Montebello think that the role and relevance of the Church today has changed? “The Church still projects herself as the conscience of the people, which is absurd. Society has changed but the Church has failed to adapt. I think the Church inMaltastill has not come to terms with the Vatican Council. Its mentality is still Tridentine, after the Council of Trent model. Take, for example, the elaborate ceremonies. In a country which is corrupt; the innumerable masses said every day; how come they did not changeMalta? Something must be very wrong. The Synod is supposed to think things over; yet it’s nothing but a long drawn monotonous, futile exercise.” So what is your alternative. “The thing is that the Church isMaltais still very sacramental. It has to become prophetic. It is very sacramental and power oriented. Nobody seems to care. That is the irrelevance of the Church inMaltatoday.”

Why stay?

If Fr Montebello is so annoyed by the Church why remain in it? “I believe in the Church. I believe in Jesus and I don’t considerMaltato be the whole of the Catholic Church. In other words I see people suffering but the healing hand of the Church is withheld, unfortunately. I’m not saying that the Church inMaltadoes not do any good, but what is done is done despite the institutional set-up.” Changing subject I ask what in Fr Montebello’s opinion is so different with the Cottonera Project today rather than 1998? “I think things are worse now because the Cottonera project is uncontrollable. They are doing whatever they like. They are building higher than the bastions, blocking passage ways and the like. There is no respect to the architectonic character of Vittoriosa. We’ve got a monster in our midst and we have not got any say as to what’s being done. For instance in the name of the Cottonera project a valley at Kalkara is going to be destroyed. We’ll fight, but the voice of the people is not being heard. For the benefit of Cottonera they are trying to destroy a Valley! They actually say this – in the last press release the Planning Authority actually said “for the benefit of Cottonera!”

Dom Mintoff

What do you think of Mintoff? “My relationship with Mintoff is personal. I think that, like Emmanuel Dimech, he was one in a million and basically I would call him a sign of contradiction because he is a lot of things to many people – all things to all men. What I like is this contribution he is giving lately; at least we have another path, different from the no and the yes. Polarisation is bad because it corners people with no possibility of compromise or benefit.”

The European Union

I ask Fr Montebello for his opinion about the EU. “I thinkEuropeis still evolving – it is still unprepared within itself. Joining the EU now is joining something which is still in a process of elaboration. Our contribution to that evolution will be negligible. I think we should wait and see how things develop. Secondly I thinkEuropedoes not want us in but it does not want us out – it is afraid of us remaining out. Thirdly I believe very strongly in independence and self-determination, even on a personal basis. And I think that once we have this we should not lose it willingly. It’s idiotic to loose it willingly. Maybe that is why I did not get married!” but aren’t you married to your community, I ask? “Yes but self determination is not destroyed over here!” I ask for Fr Mark’s thumbnail analyses of the Malta Labour Party. “Like all institutions it has its defects. I think that Alfred Sant is very much misunderstood. He is a victim of outrageous negative propaganda from his opponents. He is blamed for things that he is not responsible for. Labour is not as bad as they say it is.” I ask for a thumbnail portrait of the Nationalist Party. “The Nationalist party did a lot of good to the country. However, today it has cornered itself into the dangerous position of either EU or nothing and I think that the art of politics lies in the skill of retaining opportunities and alternatives. So what happened here is, to put it simply, bad politics. They should never have become cornered. They should have worked on another alternative.” What about a third political force inMalta? ”No. I prefer the two party system, with all its disadvantages, I still think its better than a multi party parliament.”

Inspiration

From where do you derive inspiration? “Inspiration is a question of having serenity, internal strength and having the capability of seeing things. Letting things touch you profoundly. So two things; serenity and contact. The first comes from prayer, and from prayer alone, while the second from contact with the people; prisoners, colleagues and the people I meet.”

 

FACT FILE

BORN: 7.2.64 EDUCATED: St Albert the Great College, St Aloysius College, St Thomas Aquinas College, Faculty of Theology at Tal Virtu, University of Malta, Angelicum University (Rome), and Complutense University (Madrid) ORDAINED PRIEST: 14.7.1989 MAIN MILESTONES: October 25, 1980, joined the Order of Preachers (Dominicans); August 1987 went to study in Brazil; October 1992, moved to the Cottonera district. RELAXATION: Walking near the Kalkara Valley at midnight.
HOBBIES: Reading good novels; Kafka, Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard.

Hidden victims of crime

Even though we might have not experienced it ourselves, most of us are acquainted, if only by means of the media, with the scene of an offender, who after a trial, is finally taken away from court through that small side door by law-enforcers. We feel a sense of satisfaction at seeing the offender being punished for the action he has done, the law doing its job and the victim being defended. But how many of us notice that somewhere in that courtroom is a woman crying for her husband, another weeping for her son, and a child who once had a father now gone.

With the incarceration of their relative these people are thrown into a raging wind that upsets their routine and brings turmoil and havoc in their lives. All this, not as a ‘deserved punishment’ for an action they have committed but simply because they are associated with a person who has been incarcerated.

Doors slammed shut

When the incarcerated person is a first time offender, these people find themselves knocking on doors behind which they have no idea what to find. After all, what right do these people have to be helped? They need people to guide them. They would like to know what is to happen of their family member. They need simple explanations, and the reassurances. At times all they find are impatient looks and abrupt answers. It is like they themselves brought all this trouble upon them, so they deserve to be undermined. They are inopportune fleas hindering the work of those concerned.

It is at this time of pain that the family needs to be sustained and supported. Families experience the incarceration of their relative in a very similar way to the death of a loved one. It is at this time that friends and other relatives are most needed to understand and show acceptance. Instead, the family often undergoes further judgment by those around them. They are subjected to pity, derision and accusations. “After all, it was their fault, they must have known what was going on, they let it happen, they brought him up that way.” The family is avoided and further blamed at still caring and loving their incarcerated member. As one mother said, “they expect you to stop loving your child, to simply disown him. How can I stop loving him? Whatever he does he is my son!”

Once the main provider is in prison, the family is forced to make adjustments. Financial problems arise heightened by the fact that not once or twice have people been fired or refused employment because they have a family member in prison. Those who before did not need to work, now have to find employment, leaving children with new carers, aunts, uncles, grand-parents, neighbours. Leisure time dwindles drastically as family members employ time to cope rather than to spend time together. They have court callings, contact visits to go to, food, clothing and things to prepare for visiting their loved one.

The children are guilty too

The effects of having an incarcerated parent on children varies according to their age, the parent’s duration of incarceration, the disruption the loss brought in the child’s environment, the support system around the child as well as the child’s personality. However, there are certain threads that seem to be common in a number of children.

Often to protect our children we do not give them the full information and do not explain fully what is going on. This leaves the child with feelings of uncertainty and bewilderment. Suddenly someone he/she loves has been taken away. Why? What will happen next? When will he return? What if something happened to him?

Feeling betrayed and sensing that other people are trying to hide the truth, the child loses trust and often exhibits anger towards the remaining caregiver. At the same time there is the fear that the remaining parent, will disappear too and leave him/her on their own. The child starts showing increased amounts of anxiety at being with strangers, or being left alone. The child starts being clingy both to objects and to people.

Soon after the loss of their parent, physical symptoms such as complaints of headaches and stomachaches are not unusual. Children might manifest behaviours common at younger ages such as bed-wetting and thumb sucking. Sleep problems, fear of the dark and nightmares are a manifestation of the child’s anxieties. Eating disorders might also develop.

A completed cycle

Whilst being angry at the incarcerated parent and feeling abandoned, children might also feel guilty. Very small things, like a comment said in anger might make the children think that what happened is their fault, that they are to blame or that they could have prevented it.

Children suffer from effects of bullying, labeling and stigma, they are excluded by their peers because of someone else’s action. They find themselves angry at the parent who brought this shame on them, but at the same time they still want to protect him.

This leads to a number of children being hyperactive and uncontrollable both, with adults and authority figures as well as with peers and at school. Others are moody, and stay on their own. Both the aggression and the withdrawal further lead to social isolation, loss of friends, confidence and self-esteem. They feel inadequate, unwanted, and unloved. It is as if they do not belong anywhere.

The disruption, sadness, loneliness, and feelings of helplessness do not have positive effects on the child’s academic performance, which in turn continues to make the idea of learning more disagreeable to the child. The child who cannot fit in any other way often seeks acceptance by taking the role of the unruly child the clown who disturbs the class, directing further anger towards him/her.

All this has adverse effects on the child’s self-esteem, which in turn heightens the risk for substance abuse, delinquency, and gang involvement as the child tries to fill the emptiness and seek a sense of safety from aloneness and separation, in objects other than their primary relationships.

In conclusion

Finally, the chaos the family is subjected to, does not end the moment the sentence is over. All the changes in roles, the changes in personality, the changes that were brought about in the years the person was absent, are often the cause of riots and rebellion when the person returns home. Young children used to a father who gave them gifts when they visited him, now have to accept that this person demands obedience and takes decisions for them as well. The woman who for these last years has been both the mother and the father now finds herself challenged by a different opinion. Grand parents who took the role of care-givers now need to move out of the picture to take up the role of grand parents once again.

It is important for us to realise that there are other people, in that court-room, people that are often forgotten. People that are often judged as much as the offender is. People that are rejected and excluded simply for being parents, wives, husbands, sons and daughters. People who are rejected for loving.

Fil-qorti ma’ l-akkuzat

Minn Dr Mark F. Montebello

Mit-Tnejn, 29 ta’ April, sat-Tlieta li ghadda, 14 ta’ Mejju, ghal aktar minn gimghatejn, tajt is-servizz li nassisti fil-qorti kriminali lill-akkuzat Aimen El Baden waqt il-guri tieghu. Dan kien inkarigu ufficjali, fuq stedina ta’ l-akkuzat innifsu, u bil-permess formali tal-familja El Baden ta’ Tripli (Libja), ta’ l-awtoritajiet tal-habs, u tal-qorti.

Servizz umanitarju

Xogholi, naturalment, ma kienx legali. Dan kien xoghol l-avukat difensur, li f’dal-kaz kien Dr. Joseph Mifsud, li mexxa d-difiza bi professjonalità u hila kbira.

Dmiri kien li nieqaf ma’ l-akkuzat moralment u umanament f’mument ta’ tensjoni kbira ghalih. Kien ukoll li nzomm lill-familja tieghu fil-Libja infurmata dwar l-istat personali tal-qarib taghhom waqt il-guri.

Dan is-servizz hu aspett wiehed biss tal-hidma li shabi u jien naghmlu fil-qasam tal-gustizzja kriminali matul is-sena kollha. Hi hidma li tlaqqaghna ma’ kull xorta ta’ nies: offensuri tal-gustizzja, vittmi tal-kriminalità, gwardjani tal-habs, gurnalisti, operaturi tal-gustizzja (pulizija, avukati, magistrati u mhallfin, membri tac-civil fis-servizz tal-qorti jew ta’ dipartimenti ohra tal-gvern) u l-bqija.

Mhux approvazzjoni

Dan is-servizz partikulari (jigifieri l-assistenza ta’ akkuzat waqt il-guri) ghandu d-diffikultajiet tieghu minhabba li generalment jidentifikak ma’ l-akkuzat u, b’mod aktar specifiku, mar-reat li jkun akkuzat bih. Hafna nies anki jahsbu li int sahansitra tapprova l-allegat reat tieghu.

Ohrajn imorru anki pass iehor ’il quddiem. Jahsbu li, ghax tkun qieghed tassisti lill-akkuzat, m’ghandek ebda simpatija jew hniena ghall-vittma li l-akkuzat jista’ jkollu. Il-familja tal-vittma, nghidu ahna, tista’ tkun fost dawn ta’ l-ahhar.

Il-verità hi li xejn minn dan ma hu minnu. Il-fatt li nassistu lill-akkuzat fl-aktar mument qalil ghalih b’ebda mod ma jfisser li napprovaw dak li seta’ ghamel, u lanqas li ma nhossux ghall-vittma li seta’ kellu, jew anki ghall-familja tal-vittma.

Id-dinjità tal-persuna

Propjament, meta nassistu lil offensur tal-gustizzja f’xi stadju tal-kaz tieghu ? mill-ewwel jum ta’ l-arrest sa l-ahhar jum tas-sentenza tieghu ? u anki, ghandi nghid, wara li jkun skonta s-sentenza, ahna ftit nikkoncentraw fuq in-natura tar-reat li jkun gie akkuzat bih jew li ghalih wehel il-habs.

Ghalina hu bizzejjed li nagharfu li huwa bniedem. Dan ma jfissirx li ma naghtu kas ta’ xejn aktar. Ifisser li, bhala bniedem ? arrestat, issentenzjat jew b’kondotta mahmuga ?, ahna naghtuh ir-rispett li jmiss lil kull persuna umana ohra.

Kemm jekk hu arrestat jew issentenzjat fil-habs, kemm jekk waqt guri kriminali, u kemm jekk wara l-hrug tieghu mill-habs, lil kull bniedem ? hu min hu, ghamel x’ghamel, u jisthoqqlux jew le ? naghtuh il-gieh u r-rispett tad-dinjità tal-persuna umana.

“Kont il-habs …”

Dan mhux kulhadd jifhmu. U nammetti li mhuwiex facli tifhmu. Shabi u jien nifhmuh, mhux ghax ahna bravi, umani jew qaddisin aktar minn haddiehor. Imma ghax lilna nghatat il-grazzja li nifhmuh. M’ghandix mod iehor kif nispjega din il-fehma.

U ladarba nifhmuh, lesti li niddefendu d-dinjità umana ta’ kull bniedem li gie arrestat jew issentenzjat. U niddefenduha kontra kulmin bil-hsieb, bil-kliem jew bl-ghemil jaghmel jew ifittex li jaghmel xi haga biex bl-icken mod inaqqasha.

Fil-qorti ma’ l-akkuzat inkompli, anki f’isem shabi, il-missjoni li ghandi li “naghmel ma’ l-izghar fost huti” dak li Gesù qalli li naghmel mieghu stess. Ghax Gesù stess qal li “kulma taghmlu ma’ l-izghar fost dawn huti, tkunu taghmluh mieghi … ghax jien kont il-habs u intom gejtu magenbi”.

Habib tieghi wkoll

Waqt il-guri, qalbi nghasret ghall-vittma u ghall-familja tieghu. Tassew. Lil Alfie Rizzo kont nafu personalment, u nista’ nghid li kien habib tieghi. It-telfa tieghu, f’cirkustanzi daqshekk koroh u tragici, niktitni hafna. It-tluq tieghu kien ingust u krudil.

L-assistenza ma’ dak li eventwalment gie misjub unanimament hati tal-qtil tieghu, ghalhekk, kellha ghalija sinifikat partikulari. Li nieqaf mill-qrib ma’ dak li nehha l-hajja ta’ habib tieghi kienet prova qawwija ghal dak li nemmen fih.

Aimen dan jafu, ghax ghedtulu kemm-il darba. U mieghu dejjem fittixt li nghidlu wkoll kemm Alfie, minkejja xi vizzji li seta’ kellu (bhalma ghandna ahna lkoll, wara kollox), kien ragel tajjeb.

Il-hbiberija tieghi ma’ Alfie, izda, u s-soghba tieghi ghall-mod kif tnehha, bl-ebda mod ma jcaqalquli d-determinazzjoni tieghi li nassisti moralment u umanament lil dak li nstab hati tal-qtil tieghu. Il-mandat tal-missjoni tieghi ma jiddajjifx bl-gharfien tal-hruxija, izda jissahhah. Aktar ma tkun kbira l-mizerja umana, aktar trid tkun kbira l-hniena.

Il-mahfra biss isserrah

Jien assistejt lil Aimen ghax nemmen li kull bniedem, ghamel x’ghamel, ghandu jigi rrispettat bhala tali, specjalment f’mument tant delikat f’hajtu. Dan mhuwiex nuqqas ta’ rispett ghat-tifkira ta’ Alfie. Anzi. Huwa rikonoxximent tat-tjubija tieghu u tal-gid li kien ihoss li ghandu dejjem jaghmel lil haddiehor.

B’daqshekk lanqas ma nqast lill-familja tieghu. Tul dawn il-gimghatejn jiena stajt inhoss, forsi aktarminnhaddiehor, it-tbatija kbira li gabet fuqhom it-tragedja tal-qarib ghaziz taghhom.

Forsi xi whud minnhom ihossu li issa li, wara tant snin, spicca l-guri u nghatat is-sentenza, jistghu fl-ahhar jistriehu. Jien ghandi kull rispett lejn dan is-sentiment taghhom. Izda ma nahsibx li hu minnu. Jiena konvint li l-mistrieh taghhom jistghu jsibuh biss meta jahfru lil Aimen tassew minn qalbhom.

Gieh mhux ingurja

Dan mhuwiex facli. Jista’ jsir biss bil-grazzja ta’ Alla. Ir-rabja hi haga naturali u mistennija, imma hi wkoll bhal actu fuq ir-ruh ta’ min igarrabha. Ir-rabja u n-nuqqas ta’ mahfra la jgibu l-paci u wisq anqas il-mistrieh.

Xi ftit minn din ir-rabja rajtha fi tmiem il-guri t-Tlieta li ghadda, meta xi hadd qrib il-familja mnikkta ta’ Rizzo wzat mieghi kliem ta’ tmaqdir u anki azzardat tmissni. Jien ma nghoddx dan kontriha. Imma wrieni li fil-qorti ma’ l-akkuzat, kont akkuzat mieghu; u mal-hati, gejt maghdud hati jien ukoll.

Dan jaghtini gieh kbir tassew.

Kawza kontra sentenza tal-Ghomor minghajr Parowl

Il-Qorti Kostituzzjonali ordnat li l-prigunier Tunezin Ben Ali Wahid, fi zmien xahar jitressaq quddiem il-Bord tal-Parowl biex jiddetermina jekk ghandux jinghata l-Parowl, wara li diga skonta 30 sena habs. Il-Fondazzjoni Mid-Dlam Ghad-Dawl laqghet bi pjacir din id-decizjoni storika, u kienet strumentali biex Wahid ikun jista’ jiftah din il-kawza.

Wahid, flimkien ma prigunier iehor kienu nstabu hatja li fl-1988 qatlu 4 persuni, fosthom 2 xufiera tat-taxis. Ghaldaqstant inghataw piena ta’ ghomor il-habs li f’Malta litteralment tfisser ghomor. Wara s-sentenza kostituzzjonali, inholoq mekkanizmu li bih, prigunieri li jkunu sentenzjati ghal ghomorhom fil-habs, jistghu japplikaw ghal parowl, wara li jkunu skontaw 30 sena.

Konferenza f’Gheluq l-20 sena ta’ Mid-Dlam ghad-Dawl.

 

Is-Sibt 18 t’April il-Fondazzjoni Mid-Dlam ghad-Dawl fakkret l-20 sena servizz fil-Habs permezz ta ta’ Konferenza li saret fil-Kappella Russa, il-Palazz ta’ Sant Anton.

Il-Konferenza  saret bl-ghajnuna tal-President ta’ Malta, l-E.T. Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, li gentilment offritilna l-post u ghalqet il-konferenza b’indirizz li fih fahhret il-hidma tal-NGO’s fil-habs, b’mod specjalment tal-ghaqda MDD.

F’ din il-konferenza, miftuha b’ indirizz mic-Chairperson tal-Fondazzjoni Mr. George Busuttil,  MDD prezentat ukoll studju fuq il-kors ” Bahaviour and Skills Managment”  li sar ma madwar 24 resident fil-habs ta’ Kordin bejn Settembru u Dicembru 2014 . Tkellmu fuq dan il-progett Ms.Roberta Holland, psikologa tal-Habs u Ms.Tanya Caruana, il-kordinatrici  tal-progett. Tkellmu ukoll it-”tutors” li hadmu mar-residenti :  Mr Ray Cacciattolo ( Yoga) ; Mr.  Mark Lewis ( Physical  Training ) ; Ms Fleur Bianco (Psychology ) u Mr Narcy Calamatta (Drama). Fil-kors hadu sehem ukoll Mr Fabio Spiteri (Physical Training) u Ms Josette Ciappara (Motivational Talks). Kull min attenda ghall-konferenza  inghata ktieb bl-istudju tal-kors.

Fil-konferenza tkellem ukoll il-Ministru tal-Intern Dr. Carmelo Abela u s-Shadow Minister  Dr Beppe Fenech Adami li fahhru il-hidma ta’ MDD u tal-NGO’s. Tkellmu ukoll 2 residenti li  hadu sehem fil-kors, residenta barranija u eks-prigunier Mr. Etienne Carter. Id-diskors tal-okkazjoni sar minn Patri Mark Montebello, Direttur ghal zmien twil ta’ MDD li sahaq fuq l-umanita’ li jahdmu biha l-NGO’s u li l-Habs ghandu ikun qabel kollox ” Post terapewtiku”.

Prezenti ghail-konferenza kien hemm id-direttur tal-Habs Simon Buttigieg, l-Assistent Direttur Mariella Camilleri, voluntiera u diversi hbieb ta’ MDD.

Il-konferenzza li bdiet fid-9:30 u ntemmet fis-13:00 ghalqet b’ riceviment fil-gnien ta’ hdejn il-Kappella Russa.

Report on the White Paper regarding Drug Reform.

MDD Foundation published the report on the White Paper Regarding Drug Reform. The Report was prepared by Dr. Matthew Muscat for MDD.

white paper report