We are extremely concerned at
the increased number of alerts we are receiving from persons who do not have
sufficient food for themselves and their families and who are about to be
evicted because they are unable to pay rent. Many were at risk of poverty
before the COVID-19 outbreak, but now the number of people requiring urgent and
immediate assistance is increasing exponentially.
As people lose their jobs or have their wages cut, their ability to meet the most basic needs and those of their family members is being jeopardised. For some, these risks will be mitigated by Government’s support packages or by relying on support provided by social services, the community, family, friends, NGOs or the Church. Yet there are thousands of people who will not be able to receive this life-saving aid. They might not be aware of it or they could not be eligible for it. More worrying, it is becoming increasingly clear that there simply is not enough available aid to support Malta’s most vulnerable persons. We also note last week’s statement by 20 Church entities, expressing similar concerns.
This is our Director’s opinion piece for Times of Malta, published on 13 February 2020.
Despite the radical developments in Malta over the past months, it cannot be said that normality has been restored. After weeks of taking to the streets, we at Aditus Foundation welcomed Joseph Muscat’s resignation and Prime Minister Robert Abela’s statements on governance reform.
Yet, it would be foolish to believe or act as if Malta’s institutional shortcomings have miraculously disappeared.
Our democracy is still extremely vulnerable and we are concerned that the gravest threats come from within.
Notwithstanding their shameful activities, Muscat and Konrad Mizzi
remain members of Parliament. There, they are able to exercise authority
and influence laws that govern every aspect of all our lives and that
of our nation.
This is clearly unacceptable and no argument on their political right to those two seats will make us think otherwise.
We’ve just written to the Minister for Home Affairs, National Security and Law Enforcement on the occasion of Malta’s accession to the 1954 Statelessness Convention. This is fantastic news, as Malta was one of the few EU Member States to not have signed any of the statelessness conventions.
For many years, together with our partners at the European Network on Statelessness, we’ve advocated for Malta to step up its efforts on statelessness and tackle the human rights challenges faced by stateless people in Malta, including arbitrary detention, lack of documentation, eternal legal limbo, difficulties marrying and even simple tasks as opening a bank account.
All these issues, as well as related recommendations, are very well-presented in the Statelessness Index, a useful comparative tool on how European countries are protecting stateless persons.
Our next steps are to work closely with the Ministry to ensure that the legal and administrative framework set up to implement the Convention is of the highest possible standards!
We had a fabulous morning in Court today! After 18 months in criminal proceedings, NGO rescue Captain Claus-Peter Reisch was finally cleared of all charges brought against him. In its much-awaited judgement, the Court of Criminal Appeal closed Police vs Claus-Peter Reisch (Appeal No. 150/2019) with a 62-page judgement finding Claus-Peter not guilty of sailing into Maltese waters without the appropriate ship registration. Thanks to this judgement, Claus-Peter is now a free man!
Claus-Peter was charged following the rescue at sea of over 200 migrants. In the political impasse that followed the rescue, the Netherlands claimed the MV Lifeline was not flying the Dutch flag, prompting Malta to allow the ship to enter its port and disembark the migrants and to subsequently slapped Claus-Peter with two criminal charges relating to the ship’s registration. In the first judgement, delivered on 14 May 2019, Claus-Peter was cleared of one charge but found guilty of the other. He was fined €10,000. On our advice, he decided to appeal this conviction. A full account of the facts and judicial process may be found here.
Brussels, 26 July 2019
The criminalisation of solidarity in Europe is soaring. Researchers and civil society have identified at least 49 ongoing cases of investigation and criminal prosecution in 11 Member States involving a total of 158 people in a recent study by the European research platform ReSOMA. The number of individuals criminalised for humanitarian activities has grown tenfold, from 10 people in 2015 to 104 in 2018.
targets include volunteers, activists, NGOs, crew members of rescue ships,
migrants’ family members, and also journalists, mayors and priests. The recent arrest of the Sea Watch 3 captain, Carola Rackete, is just the
latest example of how people are being blamed for saving migrants’ lives and
providing the humanitarian assistance which Member States are unwilling or
unable to provide, despite being obliged to according to international and EU
Independent judges have found no sound evidence for convictions in most of these cases. This suggests that prosecutions are often being politically used to deter solidarity and create a hostile environment for migrants. Policing solidarity further involves suspicion, intimidation, harassment and disciplining against civil society, with long-term consequences for the rule of law, democratic accountability, social cohesion, freedom of association and fundamental rights in the EU. These misguided investigations fuel the negative image of migrants as criminals and perpetuate the perception of chaos at Europe’s borders.