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.
On Friday 13 December we opened our exhibition of human rights posters, ‘Larger Than Life!‘ as part of the project supported Arts Council Malta. It was a fun, vibrant and engaging evening where the 6 fabulous artworks could be fully appreciated…with wine and pizza 😉
In ‘Larger Than Life!’ we commissioned 6 human rights posters from established local artists: Ed Dingli, Sarah Maria Scicluna, Magda Azab, Seb Tanti Burló, Luke Caruana, Daniela Attard. Our idea was to produce posters unlike our usual NGO poster. Instead, we wanted stunning artworks that happen to be posters grappling with a human rights theme. The 6 artists did a great job, their works vary in approach, tone, colour, mood and theme thereby giving the exhibition a truly composite feel.
On 12 November, I was in Brussels to attend the 9th EASO Consultative Forum Plenary Meeting. This meeting is a gathering of NGO representatives from all Europe, stakeholders from Member States, European Union officials (EASO and European Commission) and the United Nations (UNHCR).
This year’s Forum was focused on the initial steps in the asylum procedure and the aim was to exchange knowledge from different types of stakeholders.
We heard different panel discussions from experts stressing key considerations, with the opportunity to present questions on issues we’re all facing in our work. Civil society, Member States and European institutions officials had a chance to express their views and hear each other.
Final recommendations from the different workshops focused on outreach and information, registration, and channelling of applicants with special needs.
This gathering is a great opportunity for everyone to learn more, exchange and get inspired in order to do a more appropriate and fairer work. I sincerely thank EASO for supporting my participation at this meeting!
Yesterday we had an intense day in Court with Carla and I handling three important cases: Lifeline, El Hiblu 1 and a gender recognition case. Two of these had successful outcomes and we’re waiting (as I type) for a decision in the third.
Some weeks ago Carla had presented an application requesting the Court of Voluntary Jurisdiction to recognised the affirmed gender of a transgender man. The Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act (GIGESC) states that, when a person has already availed oneself of the procedure to change one’s gender and/or name, the second change needs to happen through a Court application.
At the end of August (28-29), I attended a workshop on hate crime organised by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
ODIHR provides support, assistance and expertise to participating States and civil society to promote democracy, rule of law, human rights and tolerance and non-discrimination. It observes elections, reviews legislation and advises governments on how to develop and sustain democratic institutions. The Office also conducts training programmes for government and law-enforcement officials and non-governmental organizations on how to uphold, promote and monitor human rights.
The aim of the workshop was to familiarise civil society organisations with the concept of hate crime, especially in the context of migration, and introduce ODIHR’s work on reporting and addressing hate crimes in Europe.
This workshop was important for us all at aditus foundation, since we are searching for betters ways to support our beneficiaries when they are victims of hate crimes. In particular we are extremely concerned that, whilst we do know of hate crimes occurring in Malta, reporting levels remain extremely low…almost at level zero. My participation was funded by UNHCR Malta, for which aditus foundation is extremely grateful.