Shameful treatment of arrested migrants is a manifestation of institutionalised racism

NGO Statement – aditus foundation, Integra Foundation, Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta)

We strongly condemn the manner in which the Malta Police Force escorted a group of arrested migrants, including a number of minors, to Court this morning.

Publicly available images and videos show the arrested migrants brought to Court via one of Malta’s busiest pedestrian streets. All men were tied together in pairs with cable ties,  seemed to be wearing the same clothes they had on when arrested yesterday and it was reported that some were without shoes. A large number of accompanying Police officers were wearing white sanitary gloves.

We believe this treatment to be inhumane and prejudicial to the presumption of innocence principle. International and European standards include the State obligation to ensure that suspects are not presented in Court or in public in a manner that infers guilt. This treatment also amounts to institutionalised racism since this way of parading accused persons seems to be reserved to non-Maltese nationals.

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(Ir)Regular Love Campaign

Everyone who is old enough has the right to marry, no matter who they are or where they are from, this is guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

However, not everyone has access to this right and many migrants that do not have a Maltese residence permit or a valid visa still face a number of barriers when wishing to contract a marriage with their partners, be they Maltese or foreign, even though Maltese law does not require Maltese residency in order to marry.

This is our campaign to raise awareness on their right to marry:

(Ir)Regular Love Campaign video

Follow our News & Updates or email [email protected] to get to know more!


This project has been funded by the Small Initiatives Support Scheme (SIS) managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector (MCVS)

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Watch the dividing line between maintaining public order and eating away at fundamental freedoms!

The current climate in Malta risks being pushed towards a scenario that disregards a series of fundamental freedoms. Over the past days we have witnessed Government behaviour that has progressively eaten away at those freedoms that are fundamental to the healthy functioning of a democratic society. We are therefore seriously concerned that, if continued unchecked, such behaviour will cross the dividing line between permissible Government interventions to maintain public law and order, and actions amounting to human rights violations.

We appreciate that in fulfilling its duty to protect all persons in Malta, the Government is empowered to take actions it deems necessary. We also fully acknowledge the challenges presented to the Government by large demonstrations of the kind that have been occurring on an almost daily basis outside key institutions: the Prime Minister’s office, Parliament House and the Law Courts.

Yet we feel it is necessary to remind the Government that demonstrations and public expressions of opinions, aligned or opposed to Government’s own views, are an integral part of functioning and strong democracies. That any action taken by the Government to curtail, limit or deprive anyone from exercising their fundamental human rights must occur within the very strict limits imposed by law. That the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly are solidly enshrined in Malta’s Constitution. That they are also present in internal human rights instruments creating binding legal obligations on Malta, such as the European Convention on Human rights, the European Unions’ Fundamental Right Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

We therefore express full solidarity with members of media organisations who were locked in the Prime Minister’s Office by unidentified men. We strongly denounce the verbal and physical attacks on journalists by Government employees. We flag, as an act of direct provocation, the relentless shrinking of public demonstration space in Freedom Square where Parliament House is located. We unequivocally condemn as false and inflammatory public statements by Government officials that demonstrators are intent on causing bloodshed. We stress that statements made by Government officials, describing civil society organisations as political party tools, are unfounded and made with an intent to stir up hatred and further unrest.

We finally stress that the on-going peaceful demonstrations, in which we are actively and proudly participating, are a national call of justice and accountability. Until the nation and its institutions embark on a path of truth and justice, the people will insist on exercising their fundamental rights of free expression and free peaceful assembly.

We therefore urge Government to refrain from any act that could unduly interfere with the exercise of these rights. We alert the Government to the possibility that any acts or words of provocation on their part could result in serious consequences and civil unrest.


The Prime Minister must resign at once

Recent developments in investigations related to the brutal assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia have shocked the nation and the international community. The alleged involvement of members of Government in this awful plot and in the criminal activities that led to its realisation calls into question a series of important decisions taken by the Prime Minister. They are decisions shedding doubt on what he knew, could have or ought to have known about the people he chose to lead the country with him.

These doubts damage the integrity of the Office of the Prime Minister and the only way for the Office and, consequently, the nation, to be protected from further damage is for Joseph Muscat to resign with immediate effect.

We strongly reiterate comments made in our statement of 19 May 2017, The nation deserves better, and more, from Government and Parliament, we commented that “Malta’s governance institutions are largely failing to fulfil their roles of preventing and addressing abuses of political and administrative power. It is shameful that the entities entrusted by the nation to ensure justice, fairness, efficiency and democratic process – the public service, the judiciary, administrative tribunals, the police and armed forces, and state agencies – are consistently used as extensions of political party clubs or recruitment agencies.”

We noted a “severe lowering of democratic expectations, where glittering and at times irresponsible electoral promises replace long-term commitments that aim to better the entire nation for the common good.”

The statement of more than two years ago reverberates loudly today, following a long string of institutional failures directly connected to the Prime Minister.

It is time for the entire nation to reclaim Malta’s democratic values. To insist that fundamental human rights, rule of law and good governance are repositioned at the heart of Government. To embark on a healing process that will require a revision of our Constitution, a challenging of the omnipotence of political parties and a strengthening of those institutions mandated to respect, protect and fulfil our fundamental human rights.

The nation can only start healing with the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.



NGO Statement on the European Meeting of 23 September

On the occasion of the meeting of the 23 September between representatives of Malta, Italy, Germany, France, Finland and the European Commission the undersigned organisations strongly urge the meeting participants to bring to an end a distribution of responsibilities that results in human suffering, injustice and violations of international and European law.

A permanent system of disembarkation and relocation of asylum-seekers rescued in the Mediterranean is absolutely necessary. The current ad hoc system whereby relocation is negotiated on a ship-by-ship basis is neither humane nor  sustainable. Furthermore, it is imperative that rescued asylum-seekers are always treated in a manner that fully respects their dignity and fundamental rights. Ultimately, the present scenario risks draining cooperating Member States of their willingness to support Italy and Malta.

We welcome the active involvement of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in these relocation exercises, reiterating the need for such exercises to be treated as European initiatives and not as bilateral political negotiations amongst Member States outside the scope of legal and policy scrutiny. Relocating asylum-seekers should be based on the principles enshrined in Europe’s asylum norms, including: registration and protection as asylum-seekers, appropriate provision of information, restoration of family ties, identification of and support to vulnerable persons.

We are particularly concerned at Malta’s treatment of rescued persons in the Initial Reception Centre and in Safi Detention Centre. We have already expressed our concerns regarding the lawfulness of the detention of those who have been detained on medical grounds for weeks on end. Beyond this, both centres are over-crowded and living conditions are abysmal.

Whilst we fully appreciate Malta’s challenges in receiving relatively large numbers of asylum-seekers in a short time, we cannot endorse an approach that leaves people locked up for weeks, without a valid reason at law, and treats them with such disregard for their humanity.

It is simply unacceptable that this approach is tolerated by a European Union built on values of solidarity, humanity and dignity.

In view of the above, we strongly urge the Member State participants to seek to establish a permanent relocation mechanism for asylum-seekers rescued in the Mediterranean that:

  1. Provides effective solidarity with Italy and Malta by ensuring the swift transfer of asylum-seekers and by providing support – including financial – towards the urgent improvement of reception conditions;
  2. Terminates at once the approach whereby rescued persons are only allowed to be disembarked once their relocation is secured;
  3. Ensure that all persons are provided with information, in a manner they understand, about their futures from the moment of their arrival and throughout the relocation procedure;
  4. Guarantees that, following disembarkation, all persons are treated humanely and with respect for their dignity and fundamental human rights;
  5. Immediately strengthens the capacity of open reception centres, both in terms of physical space and in terms of the human resources necessary to provide all asylum-seekers with the support they need to rebuild their lives.

Statement by:

  1. aditus foundation
  2. African Media Association
  3. Blue Door English
  4. Integra Foundation
  5. Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta)
  6. Malta Emigrants’ Commission
  7. Migrant Women Association (Malta)
  8. Moviment Graffitti
  9. Office of the Dean, Faculty of Education
  10. SOS Malta
  11. Syrian Solidarity in Malta