A petition being shared on social media claims that the World Health Organisation will assume executive powers over Malta’s constitution if the government fails to “succumb to their request” by October 31.
The petition, launched in early September on the popular website change.org, is titled “No to WHO having executive power during a pandemic which supersedes the Constitution” and asks people to object to the WHO’s demands by signing the petition.
It does not elaborate on what WHO’s supposed request is, nor does it explain what the government’s position on the matter is.
Nevertheless, the petition’s use of an image of a crossed-out needle, a symbol widely used by anti-vaccine movements throughout the pandemic, suggests that the supposed request is related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The petition comes as the government is offering COVID-19 booster shots for the new variant of the virus.
According to the petition, if the government fails to reply to WHO’s requests by the 31st October deadline, “WHO will assume that the Government has accepted” and will automatically be granted executive powers “which will prevail over BOTH the Geneva Convention & the Maltese Constitution”.
The petition’s creators go on to ask why this issue has not received any local or international media coverage.
The petition has been signed by over 150 people so far, with many also sharing it on their social media feeds and explaining their reason for signing the petition. One person said that they signed the petition because “sovereignty is of utmost importance to me”, while another said that the WHO “should not be allowed to impose its will/decision on the Maltese population”.
However, in reality, this petition is simply the latest in a long line of similar conspiracy theories that were widespread throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and have resurfaced in recent months.
It is not true that the government has to reply to a request from the WHO by 31st December, nor is it true that the WHO can ever assume executive powers over Malta’s Constitution.
Health ministry ‘categorically denies such conspiracies’
Replying to questions sent by the Times of Malta, the health ministry described the petition as a conspiracy theory and said it “categorically denies” that any request of this kind by the WHO exists.
Likewise, there is no evidence of the WHO ever placing similar demands on any government, let alone that of Malta.
It is also not possible for any organisation or international body to assume executive powers over Malta’s Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.
The Constitution even makes provisions for situations of public emergency, clearly outlining how long periods of emergency can last and the steps to be followed once they are declared.
Pandemic Accord misinformation
Similar claims to those made in the petition have been circulating ever since the pandemic was first declared in early 2020, however, they have resurfaced in recent months, as discussions over the so-called Pandemic Accord have intensified.
The accord is intended to set norms for how countries can better respond to future health emergencies.
However, mention of the accord has given rise to several false claims around the world, many of them saying that the accord is set to strip countries of their sovereignty or grant the WHO powers to control countries’ health policies.
These claims have been debunked several times by fact-checkers around the world. In February, AFP debunked a claim made by several conservative websites that US President Joe Biden had agreed a deal to hand over control of pandemic laws to the WHO. A similar claim made in Thailand was also debunked a few months later.
More recently still, Deutsche Welle described a similar claim as “false”, finding that “the draft text is careful to stress the sovereignty of nations”.
The health ministry confirmed that the WHO has not made any requests to the government. Malta’s Constitution does not allow for an organisation or entity to assume executive powers over it, even in the case of public emergencies.
The proposed Pandemic Accord, which has inspired several similar false claims around the world, specifically emphasises the sovereignty of nations and outlines that health policies will remain the domain of each respective nation.
This claim is therefore false, as the evidence clearly refutes the claim.
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