The Framework of Criminal Law
Legislation on Bias-motivated Violence
|Bias-motivated Violent Crimes as Specific Offenses||Bias as an Express General Aggravating Factor||Bias as an Aggravating Factor in Specific Common Crimes|
Bias Types Covered by Provisions on Aggravating Circumstances
|Race/National Origin/Ethnicity||Religion||Sexual Orientation||Gender||Disability||Other|
The Criminal Code of Malta does not contain general provisions that expressly enable the racist or other bias motives of the offender to be taken into account by the courts as an aggravating circumstance when sentencing.
Bias as an Aggravating Factor in Specific Common Crimes
The Criminal Code contains provisions that enable racist or other bias motives to be taken into account as an aggravating circumstance in the commission of a wide range of specifically defined violent criminal acts.
In August 2006, the Parliament of Malta approved Act No. XVI, which amended article 222A. The amendment stipulated punishments for certain crimes, stating that the article 222A “shall be increased by one to two degrees when the offense is racially or religiously aggravated.” Under this amendment:
An offense is racially or religiously aggravated if:
a) at the time of committing the offense, or immediately before or after the commission of the offense, the offender demonstrates towards the victim of the offense hostility based on the victim’s membership (or presumed membership) of a racial or religious group; or
b) the offense is motivated, wholly or partly, by hostility towards members of a racial group based on their membership of that group.
The article defines “racial group” as “a group of persons defined by reference to race, color, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins. A “religious group” is defined as “a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief.”
This penalty enhancement amendment applies to a wide range of offenses including bodily harm, trafficking of human beings, threats, blackmail, arson and destruction of property.
 Act No. XVI of 2006, August 8, 2006, http://www.doi.gov.mt/EN/parliamentacts/2006/ActXVI.pdf.