PEOPLE ARE MORE IMPORTANT – Joint NGO Statement

We are appalled beyond words that, after 18 days of negotiations, 49 men, women and children remain stuck on a boat within sight of the Maltese shore.

In spite of countless calls for solidarity, European Member States have not managed to find a diplomatic solution to the current impasse.

This is nothing short of tragic and shameful.  It can only mean that we have completely lost our humanity – as a people and a union of states that supposedly upholds the values of solidarity, respect for human rights and human dignity.

We acknowledge the complex issues this situation raises, and agree that it is a European challenge requiring a European solution. However, this cannot be an excuse to abdicate our own responsibility, as individuals and as a nation, to save lives at any cost.

The duty to save lives is not only a legal but also a moral imperative which can never be subjected to political conditions, such as the availability of concrete offers of relocation or the fear of creating a precedent.

At this point, the question we must answer is simple: what is more important, scoring political points, or saving lives?

For us, the undersigned organisations, there can be only one answer: people are more important.

Today we are here to take a stand for life and dignity. We call on Malta to prioritize life and open its doors today.


Statement endorsed by the following NGOs:

  1. aditus foundation
  2. African Media Association Malta
  3. agara foundation
  4. Allejanza kontra il-Faqar
  5. Allied Rainbow Communities
  6. Art4Life
  7. Caritas Malta  
  8. Catholic Voices
  9. Christian Life Community (CLC) Malta
  10. Creative Arts Therapies Society (CATS)
  11. Dar Merħba Bik
  12. Dar tal-Providenza
  13. Department for Inclusion and Access to Learning, University of Malta
  14. Department of Gender Studies, University of Malta
  15. Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of Malta
  16. Department of Youth and Community Studies, University of Malta
  17. Drachma LGBT
  18. Drachma Parents
  19. Fondazzjoni Ejjew Għandi
  20. Foundation for Shelter and Support of Migrants (FSM)
  21. Integra Foundation
  22. International Association for Refugees
  23. Isles of the Left
  24. Jesuit Refugee Service Malta
  25. Kopin
  26. Kummissjoni Gustizzja u Paci
  27. Kunsill Studenti Universitarji
  28. LGBTI+ Gozo
  29. Malta Association for the Counselling Profession
  30. Malta Catholic Youth Network
  31. Malta Chamber of Psychologists
  32. Malta Emigrants’ Commission
  33. Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement 
  34. Maltese Association of Psychiatry
  35. Maltese Association of Social Workers (MASW)
  36. Men Against Violence
  37. Migrants Women’s Association Malta (MWAM)
  38. Moviment Graffiti
  39. National Foster Care Association
  40. OASI Foundation
  41. Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Social Wellbeing, University of Malta
  42. Paulo Freire Institute
  43. Peace and Good Foundation
  44. People for Change Foundation
  45. Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta
  46. PRISMS
  47. Richmond Foundation
  48. Salesians of Don Bosco
  49. Segretarjat Assistenza Soċjali tal-Azzjoni Kattolika Malta
  50. Society of Jesus in Malta
  51. Solidarity with Migrants Group
  52. SOS Malta
  53. Spark 15
  54. St Jeanne Antide Foundation
  55. St Vincent de Paule Society
  56. Studenti Ħarsien Socjali (SHS)
  57. The Critical Institute
  58. Troupe 18:45
  59. University of Malta Chaplaincy
  60. Victim Support Malta
  61. Women’s Rights Foundation
  62. Youth Alive Foundation


Do not disembark in Libya! Press statement by the #DontLetThemDrown initiative

We are extremely concerned to read of on-going negotiations between European Union Member States and Libya regarding the possible disembarkation in Libya of the twelve migrants rescued some days ago. Returning rescued migrants and refugees to Libya would expose them to serious human rights violations, which is a serious violation of international and European law.

International human rights law prohibits States from sending persons to countries where their life or freedom are in danger, or where they face a real risk of torture or inhuman and degrading treatment. Furthermore, in the context of rescue at sea, international maritime law requires that rescued persons – whoever they are – are disembarked at a place of safety. In view of the current turmoil in Libya, which is putting the lives of many Libyans at risk, and of the widely reported ill-treatment of non-Libyan migrants and refugees, it is clear that Libya cannot be considered a safe country in terms of international human rights law or of international maritime law.

In this regard we reiterate the September 2018 conclusions of the United Nations Refugee Agency:

“In light of the volatile security situation in general and the particular protection risks for third-country nationals, UNHCR does not consider that Libya meets the criteria for being designated as a place of safety for the purpose of disembarkation following rescue at sea.”

The undersigned non-governmental organisations, acting together as the #DontLetThemDrown initiative, strongly urge Malta, Italy and Spain to make sure that the rescued migrants are not disembarked in Libya under any circumstances. We urge the three Member States to reaffirm their commitment to fundamental human rights, as international legal obligations and also as shared European values.

We also call on the European Union institutions to ensure respect of these core values, and of the obligations boldly enshrined in the European Union Treaties and other legislation.

Furthermore, we appeal for the immediate disembarkation of the rescued migrants at a place of safety in order to avoid further deterioration of their situation and that of the crew members.

 


Press Conference ‘White Paper on Rent Regulation: A Positive Step Forward’

On 20 October an NGO coalition published its reaction to Government’s proposals to reform Malta’s private rent sector. Led by Moviment Graffitti, the coalition followed up recommendations it present earlier this year. aditus foundation is part of this coalition.

We believe in the need to reiterate that access to decent housing is a fundamental human right.

As such, it requires State intervention to respect, protect and fulfil it.

If you’re not clear what this right actually means or implies, you can check out this useful Fact Sheet.

A key recommendation made is:

“Although the White Paper focuses on a framework regulating private rent contracts, it also contains a number of interesting proposals with regards to the supply of units for rent. We agree with the White Paper’s notion that the housing supply should not depend entirely on the private sector.

Government and the third sector have an important role in supplying affordable housing. Besides social housing, the state and non-profit setups should build units to be leased at affordable prices whilst still generating rental revenue. This would increase the housing stock, increase state income and increase affordability.

We see no benefits from a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) setup for such projects.”


The NGO coalition is composed of:

Moviment Graffitti, Alleanza Kontra il-Faqar, Malta Tenant Support, Women’s Rights Foundation, Forum Komunita’ Bormliża, Malta Humanists Association, The Millennium Chapel, Żminijietna – Voice of the Left, aditus Foundation, Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta (PHROM), Malta Gay Rights Movement, The Critical Institute, Spark 15, Mid-Dlam għad-Dawl, Kummissjoni Ġustizzja u Paċi, SOS Malta, African Media Association Malta, Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust, Integra Foundation u Third World Group Malta



Appeal to establish a public inquiry into the assassination of Ms. Daphne Caruana Galizia


Dear Prime Minister Joseph Muscat,

I write to you on behalf of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom and 22 organisations (listed below) representing thousands of journalists and human rights activists concerning Malta’s response to the assassination of journalist Ms Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Following her murder on 16 October 2017, the Maltese authorities initiated criminal proceedings against the men who allegedly detonated the bomb that killed Ms Caruana Galizia and a parallel magisterial inquiry into whether others should be charged with criminal offences for commissioning the alleged assassins. Both the criminal proceedings and magisterial inquiry focus solely on criminal culpability.

Neither process is investigating the wider and even more serious question as to whether the Maltese state is responsible for the circumstances that led to Ms Caruana Galizia’s death.

Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights requires Malta – as a Member State of the Council of Europe – to comply with its protective obligation by examining (a) whether Malta knew, or ought to have known, of a real and immediate risk to Ms Caruana Galizia’s life; (b) the adequacy of any steps taken by Malta to guard against that risk; and (c) any steps that Malta needs to take to prevent future deaths of journalists and/or anti-corruption campaigners.

On 9 August 2018, a team of international lawyers from Doughty Street Chambers and Bhatt Murphy Solicitors in London issued a legal opinion finding that Malta has failed to institute any inquiry into whether the Maltese state bears any responsibility for the loss of Ms Caruana Galizia’s life. Following the legal opinion, the family has submitted the following request to your government:

To establish a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act that is completely independent of the Maltese police, Government and politicians, and that is conducted by a panel of respected international judges, retired judges and/or suitably qualified individuals with no political or government links.

We fully support the request and urge you to reconsider your position and to respond immediately and positively to the request of the family of Ms Caruana Galizia.

Protecting the lives and voices of journalists in Malta and across Europe depends upon this public inquiry. There is nothing to fear from this inquiry but the truth.

Seeking justice for Ms Caruana Galizia and protection for those who continue her legacy remains our top priority.

We would appreciate your written response to our appeal.

Flutura Kusari, Legal Advisor, The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom.


List of Organisations

Access Info

Active Watch

aditus foundation

Article 21

Blueprint for Free Speech

Committee to Protect Journalists

European Federation of Journalists

Global Editors Network

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

IFEX (the global network of over 100 freedom of expression organizations)

Index on Censorship

Integra Foundation

International Press Institute

OBC Transeuropa/ Centro per la Cooperazione Internazionale

Ossigeno per l’Informazione

PEN International

PEN America

Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta (PHROM)

Press Emblem Campaign

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

South East Europe Media Organisation

Transparency International

The Critical Institute

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)