Maltese national arrested in Italy-Malta drug operation / Malta News Briefing – Wednesday 1 December 2021

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Times of Malta says that during Thursday’s floods, rescuers ended up having to be rescued themselves

MaltaToday says that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announces that the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged between 5 and 11 will be available across the European Union from 13 December

Newsbook says that the cannabis reform law could popularise the use of the substance, Caritas director Anthony Gatt warned as the bill moved into the final stages before being approved by Parliament.

TVM says that with an elderly woman, aged 80, this morning had to be admitted to hospital after falling down an escalator while she was shopping at a major shopping complex in Hamrun.

Maltese national arrested in Italy-Malta drug operation: A Maltese national is among 16 persons arrested by the Italian police following a significant operation to bust a drug ring that moved cocaine and cannabis originating from Albania from Italy to Malta. Some 430kg in cannabis, cannabis resin and cocaine was seized by Italy’s Guardia di Finanza as part of the bust, named ‘Operazione La Vallette’. The operation involved around 100 officers from Italy’s financial police Guardia di Finanza in Catania, Sicily and the serious crimes unit. The arrests were made in Catania, Ragusa, and Syracuse in Sicily and around Calabria, on the mainland. The Maltese national has been identified in reports as John Spiteri.

Graduates drop 5% in 2020 – NSO: Tertiary-level graduates totalled 4,629 during 2020, equivalent to a decrease of 4.9% over the previous year.  The largest share of tertiary graduates (55.5%) attained a qualification at Bachelor’s or equivalent level. This was followed by 35.8% of total tertiary graduates who attained their qualification a Masters level. The majority of tertiary graduates (55.8%) were females. The ‘Business, administration and law’ field of education was the most popular field amongst tertiary graduates in 2020, accounting for more than one third of the total, at 35.2%,

Covid-19 Update: Active Covid-19 cases reached 1213 after 95 new cases were reported on Wednesday. 70 persons recovered, with 11 patients remaining in hospital, two of whom in ITU.

Morning Briefing

Government still discussing with EC on sale of passports

Discussions with the European Commission regarding infringement proceedings against Malta over the sale of its citizenship are still ongoing, Parliamentary Secretary Alex Muscat said. Muscat called for a balanced way forward which satisfies both the European Commission and the interests of the Maltese government. Last year, Malta phased out the controversial IIP scheme and replaced it with a new scheme which the government says focuses more on residency and can lead to citizenship. But the European Commission launched infringement proceedings against the schemes operated by Malta and Cyprus. It stepped up the proceedings against Malta in June of this year. Muscat believes that the cash for passport scheme was beneficial for Malta. “Our wish as a government is that this (current) scheme remains. We have to find the middle road and also find balance between the needs of Malta and the recommendations of the European Commission in order to find a solution which is comfortable for everyone.” (The Malta Independent)

FIAU head insists Malta is AML Compliant

Malta’s AML regime would be positively assessed by Moneyval, according to FIAU Director Kenneth Farrugia. Speaking at an MFSA conference, Farrugia said that many improvements had taken place since the 2019 Moneyval assessment which called into question Malta’s will to investigate and prosecute money-laundering. Since this assessment, Malta had managed to implement 56 out of 58 recommendations for improvement flagged by Moneyval, a council of Europe expert group on money-laundering, Farrugia said. The FIAU director said the pending implementation of the final two recommendations is what led to Malta’s grey listing in June by the FATF, the global AML watchdog. (Times of Malta)

Parliament toughens law on hate speech based on disability, old age

Propagating hate against people because of their disability or old age will become a criminal offence punishable with a prison sentence, Julia Farrugia Portelli told Parliament. The Inclusion Minister presented the amendments to the Criminal Code in parliament on Tuesday when she opened the Second Reading of the Bill. PN Deputy Leader David Agius said the Opposition will be supporting the changes in their entirety. Farrugia Portelli said the changes will offer greater protection for persons with a disability and older persons, giving the police the necessary tools to take action.
“This parliament must send out a message of zero tolerance to hatred,” she said, adding it was a shortcoming of legislators that the current law on hate crimes did not cover old people and those with a disability”. (Maltatoday)

Covid-19 Update: A total of 106 new daily cases were reported today while 54 people recovered. 12 people are being treated in hospital, 2 of whom are in the ITU.

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