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map courtesy CIA World Factbook; click for enlargement Constitution, Government & Legislation

Malta is a constitutional republic and a parliamentary democracy. The chief of state (President) appoints as the head of government (Prime Minister) the leader of the party that gains a plurality of seats in the quinquennial elections for the unicameral legislature.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Courts & Judgments

The Maltese President, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoints the Chief Justice and 16 judges. Judges serve until the age of 65, and magistrates serve until the age of 60. The highest court, the Constitutional Court, interprets the Constitution and has original jurisdiction in cases involving human rights violations and allegations relating to electoral corruption charges. The two courts of appeal hear appeals from the civil court, court of magistrates, special tribunals, and the criminal court, respectively. The criminal court, composed of a judge and nine jurors, hears criminal cases. The civil court first hall hears civil and commercial cases that exceed the magistrates' jurisdiction; the civil court's second hall offers voluntary jurisdiction in civil matters. The court of magistrates has jurisdiction for civil claims of less than $2,227 (1,000 liri) and for lesser criminal offenses. The juvenile court hears cases involving persons under 16 years of age.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Human Rights

The Maltese Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens in 2001, and the law and the judiciary provide effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. Violence against women was a problem, and societal discrimination against women persisted, but the Government has taken steps to address both issues.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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