NEW YORK, March 29 (C-FAM) The tiny island nation of Malta has been singled out as a human right abuser by legal experts in Europe in preparation for its next review by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Malta’s unforgivable offense is protecting human life in the womb.
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), a human rights organization composed of lawyers and jurists, submitted a report to the Human Rights Council accusing Malta of unnecessarily endangering women’s lives with laws that protect human life. The legal basis for these claims is highly contested.
The report deals principally with Malta’s immigration woes on account of being the European country closest to multiple African ports. But the ICJ takes the opportunity to criticize Malta for denying abortion “for therapeutic reasons” claiming it is a violation of the right to health, and is a form of torture
The legal experts cite recommendations of UN treaty bodies, charged with monitoring compliance with human rights treaties that Malta has joined. None of those recommendations are legally binding. Nor are they authoritative interpretations of UN treaties. In fact, no UN treaty contains mention of a right to abortion, or any language that would suggest such a right exists.
The scientific basis for the claims is also disputed. Both the ICJ experts and UN treaty bodies claim that women’s health is endangered where abortion is illegal because women will resort to unsafe illegal abortions. But there is no scientific evidence that Malta’s laws protecting life endanger women.
The World Health Organization 2010 figures for maternal deaths attributed to abortion in Malta are within the world average, close to 13%. Those deaths according to WHO have declined at similar rates as neighboring EU countries like Italy, Spain and Greece, which do not fully protect unborn babies. The Global Burden of Disease 2010 data on Malta further shows a very steep decline in total deaths attributed to abortion over the past twenty years has mimicked its dramatic improvement in overall maternal health (see graph). The total deaths attributed to abortion (0.03%) are fewer than in Spain and Greece.
Malta is only the latest of several Catholic nations that prohibit abortion and have excellent maternal health records to become the subject of pressure and false accusations from groups that want abortion to be a human right. Malta’s laws protect the unborn under all circumstances and at all stages of development, with no exceptions.
Like other human rights organizations created in post-war Europe with the looming threat of Soviet human rights abuses, ICJ re-tooled its focus following the demise of the Soviet Union, and began promoting abortion as a human right.
In the last decade, ICJ has also been at the forefront of the push for a broad range of new special rights for homosexuals, publishing the Yogyakarta Principles in 2007. The ICJ report on Malta accuses the island nation of denying transgender “Joanne Cassar, who is legally recognized as a woman (but was registered as male at birth)” the right to marry another man. The Maltese Supreme Court did not find any such right, and the case is now pending before the European Court of Human Rights.