The Commission Members

Commission on Gender-Based Violence
and Domestic Violence


Ms. Samantha Pace Gasan

Samantha Pace Gasan was appointed Commissioner on Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence in July 2023. Prior to this role, Ms Pace Gasan had the role of Commissioner for the Rights of Persons with Disability. She was also a Director on the Jobsplus board and member of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality.


Ms Pace Gasan graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in Social Policy in 2016, where she explored the experiences of young women in political organisations. She was later awarded a Master in Creativity and Innovation in 2020. Throughout her Master programme, Samantha focused her studies on social innovation within Maltese SMEs.


Samantha promotes the importance of adopting an intersectional approach to policy, ensuring that the needs of different social groups are met and that initiatives undertaken are accessible for all. She strongly believes in the importance of collaboration and creativity and innovation to address longstanding societal issues.


Ms Pace Gasan became an activist in her teenage years. She was a member of the Malta Girl Guides, where she enjoyed various roles including as a leader in the community, as part of the Stop the Violence project and the National Board. She was also part of the National Youth Council where she worked on policy proposals regarding sexual health. Pace Gasan was the president of student organisation Studenti Ħarsien Soċjali and a co-founder of the Network of Young Women Leaders. She has also worked with Servizzi Ewropej Malta and the University of Malta where she worked on social research projects and developed proposals for EU funded projects.


Samantha is 30 years old, she is a person with disability and a foster carer.


Dr. Cheryl Azzopardi

Dr. Cheryl Azzopardi obtained her Doctor of Laws degree in December 2015 and was subsequently admitted to the Bar in March 2016. Her journey into the legal field commenced in July 2014, starting as a trainee lawyer. Upon becoming a qualified lawyer, she secured the position of Associate at a leading law firm.


Specializing in Human Rights Law, Equality Law, and Compliance, Dr. Azzopardi has made significant contributions to legal frameworks. In 2017, she took on the role of legal advisor to the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs, and Civil Liberties. As part of this role, she played a pivotal part in the drafting of various laws aimed at advancing equality in Malta. Additionally, she provided legal counsel during the development of the Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence Act of 2018.  Dr. Azzopardi has recently been appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Commission on Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence.

Ms. Marika Tonna


“Marika Tonna is currently the CEO of Business 1st, the one stop shop for business.  Previously she was the Chief Operating Officer of Malta Enterprise, the island’s economic development corporation. 


Ms Tonna also worked as a Consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister, a senior position that involved managing projects of a general business, strategic and specialist management nature.  During this period she worked on a number of major projects in different Ministries.


She has also carried out consultancy assignments abroad and she was also Malta’s economic development representative in the UK in the 1990s.


She has a management degree and an MBA from the University of Malta.”

Dr. Charles Cassar

Dr. Charles Cassar is a Maltese warranted psychotherapist, licenced to practice Gestalt psychotherapy, Logotherapy and Existential Analysis. He is also a European certified psychotherapist. Dr. Cassar is an honorary member of EAP (European Association of Psychotherapy), having served in the Executive Committee between 2000 and 2023, in addition to being elected as President of EAP in February 2019. Dr. Cassar has held the position of President for the Malta Association of Psychotherapists (MAP) from 2000 to 2021 and he is presently the Honorary President of MAP. Dr. Cassar has been the Chairperson of the Psychotherapy Professions Board Malta since the inception of the board in 2018. He has also held various posts in the aviation and maritime industries, working mostly in management and human resources. Throughout his career, Dr. Cassar held the positions of head of care at Santa Maria Drug Rehabilitation Centre and at YMCA Homeless. Presently Dr. Cassar is a CEO consultant, analysing and providing the most effective strategy for resource maximization while developing a culture that fosters sustainable competitive advantage for optimal organizational performance.

Dr. Bryony Balzia Bartolo

Dr Bryony Balzia Bartolo has been serving as a member on the Commission for Domestic Violence and Gender Based Violence since 2022. 


She is a lawyer by profession and practices mainly in lease, property, data protection and family law. 


She was admitted to the bar in 2017, after successfully reading Law at the University of Malta, obtaining a Doctor of Laws Degree, a Diploma of Notary Public, and a Bachelor of Laws and European Studies. 

Mr. Christian Camilleri

Dr Christian Camilleri is a 33-year-old with a mobility impairment. In fact, he has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy since birth. Notwithstanding this, Christian has achieved two university degrees: one in Education back in 2012, and the other in Law back in 2021. In 2022, Christian also graduated with a Masters in Advocacy.


Down the years he has worked as an Assistant Manager with the Commission for
the Rights of Persons with Disability. Currently, he is employed with the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority as a Professional Legal Officer and also serves on the International Protection Appeals Tribunal as a Member.


The area of law which interests him the most is Human Rights. He is also interested in the corporate world, in fact, he considers Corporate Law as one of the areas which he would like to work in in the future.

Ms. Renee Laiviera

Ms Renee Laiviera is currently the Commissioner of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) and NCPE’s Acting Executive Director. Ms Laiviera has held management positions in the Malta Public Service since 1998 when she was appointed Director (Women’s Rights). She also held positions on a number of government commissions and committees. She has been active in NGOs for many years and up till May 2013 held the position of Executive Member of the European Women’s Lobby and that of the Chairperson of the Malta Confederation of Women’s Organisations.


Ms Laiviera is currently an independent member of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), a monitoring body of the Council of Europe and member of the Advisory Committee on equal opportunities for women and men.


In March 2007, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, The Embassy of the United States of America in Malta honoured her for exceptional ‘courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and advancement in Malta. The University of Malta has conferred the Degree of Master of Letters (Honoris Causa) on Ms Renee Laiviera on 1st November 2019. On 5th August 2021, Ms Laiviera was honoured with the highest International WEF Award 2021 – Women of the Decade in Gender Equality by the Malta-India Business Council of the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (WICCI).

Dr. Alessia Psaila Zammit


Alessia Psaila Zammit is a lawyer and entrepreneur.

She served as a member of the Board that drafted the law for introducing the gender balance mechanism in Parliament. She has been active in advocating in favour of women’s rights and equality. 

Alessia also has experience in local communities and voluntary organisations. Amongst several public roles, between 2007- 2008 she served as President of the National Youth Council and between 2017 and 2019, she served as Mayor of Siggiewi. Alessia has also served as a board member of public boards and public corporations. She worked in the media and public relations, with 18 years of experience in the field.

Alessia is also an entrepreneur in the retail and logistics sectors. 

She graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics, Banking and Finance and a Bachelor of Laws with Philosophy (LL.B), both from the University of Malta, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies from the University of Manchester.

Alessia graduated with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the IUKB University in Switzerland and a Masters in Bioethics from the University of Malta. In 2011, she graduated with Doctor of Laws (LL.D) from the University of Malta. She is married and has two children Emilia and Giuseppe. 

Insp. Louise Calleja

Ms. Louise Calleja is an experienced police officer with an extensive service spanning over 34 years within the Malta Police. Throughout her career, she has served within the Vice Squad. In this capacity, she fulfilled dual roles as both investigator and prosecutor, addressing cases pertaining to domestic violence, sexual abuse, and human trafficking.

Over the past decade, Ms. Calleja has specialized in migration matters within the Malta Police Immigration Section.

Her dedication is highlighted by her active participation in various training programmes, as well as her contribution in national and international forums, including meetings and seminars.

Furthermore, Ms. Calleja has contributed significantly to the sharing of knowledge in her areas of expertise. She has delivered lectures on pivotal subjects such as domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking, and migration.

She holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree and a Master of Arts (MA) in Terminology and Translation from the University of Malta (UOM).









Ms. Catherine Fenech
Ms. Antonella Rogers
Ms. Sarah Haider

Sarah Haider has been a board member since 2022. 


Ms Haider graduated with a Masters in Gender Studies (Research) in 2020. Her studies focused on the political, legal and social discourse surrounding women’s reproductive rights in Malta.


Prior to this Sarah was an elected representative for Anglia Ruskin Students’ Union in Cambridge, UK. As part of her role she championed accessibility and creating an inclusive environment at the University as well as supporting student volunteers in their activism and activist groups from Greenpeace to the Feminist Society. This role planted the seed of activism for Sarah and in the importance of women’s representation in all spheres of society. 


Today, Sarah co-manages a family business in Water Testing and Consultancy. 

Board Secretary:

Ms. Pearl Agius


“Pearl Agius obtained a Master in Advocacy from the University of Malta in 2022 and was admitted to the bar in 2023 after years of training with practicing lawyers. Therefore, Pearl is a warranted lawyer who is currently working in the waste industry as an in-house lawyer for WasteServ Malta Limited.


Pearl Agius has also spent six years from 2017 to 2023 working in the newsroom of a local television and radio station where she had the opportunity to cover various stories and meet people with different backgrounds and from numerous sectors. During her time working in the newsroom she had a keen interest in reporting human stories, civil liberties and court cases.


Furthermore, Pearl is an active citizen through her involvement in youth organisations.


In June of 2022 she was appointed Secretary of the Commission on Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence.”