Hello everyone, I hope that you and your loved ones are well and in a good health. It’s getting really hot again and let us not mention Malta’s humid and rather enjoy the air conditioning and fans.
Today I will be sharing the second part of my previous blog post, about my perspectives on interpreting for refugees.
In this part, I will be focusing on the process of interpreting and how it’s practiced.
We are extremely concerned at allegations that Malta is complicit in the on-going illegal pushback to Libya of over 100 migrants. Returning migrants to Libya means returning men, women and children to severe human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, violence and torture, inhumane living conditions, human trafficking and slavery. It is entirely unacceptable for Malta to even consider engaging in such activities in its efforts to reduce the number of arrivals of persons by sea.
Publicly available information indicates the presence of Libyan Coast Guard ships in Malta’s Search and Rescue Zone. Malta’s responsibility for persons in distress within our Search and Rescue Zone is to coordinate their rescue and ensure their disembarkation at a port of safety. As strongly reiterated by the European Union Commission and by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Libya is not a safe port for migrants. Malta’s engagement with Libya’s Coast Guard for this to pick up persons from Malta’s Search and Rescue Zone is tantamount to an illegal pushback as it will anyway result in the return of persons to a place where lives and human rights will be at risk.
It is beyond shameful that, once more, around 50 men and women have been stranded for days out at sea. They are being housed in miserable and unhygienic conditions on board the MV TALIA, a vessel intended for the transportation of animals. They were rescued on the explicit instructions of the Maltese authorities and are now waiting for a port of safety to be identified. Malta simply may not abdicate responsibility for people on its territory and for whom it is clearly responsible.
Whilst we fully appreciate the serious challenges posed by the arrival by sea of asylum-seekers, we underline that, as the state responsible for the search and rescue area where the rescue took place, Malta is responsible for coordinating the disembarkation of the rescued migrants in a port of safety. Furthermore, Malta human rights obligations require it to ensure that all who wish to apply for asylum in Malta are able to do so. Malta should also ensure that no one is subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, whether on board the rescuing vessel or in a country to which they are sent for disembarkation.
We are disgusted at the situation of over 160 men detained on the Captain Morgan ships, some for more than three weeks. In detaining them out at sea, Malta is denying them basic human rights, dignity and voice. The human body and the human spirit can only endure so much. These young men have been exposed to too much trauma, we fear their physical and mental well-being will deteriorate fast. Malta is responsible for their ongoing detention out at sea and for the conditions they are forced to endure.
We remind the authorities that these are compounded by the psychological distress that they would have been forced to endure in the past weeks and months throughout their journey, including the violence that they would have been exposed to in Libya.
We are utterly disillusioned by the news that, once more, in the space of less than two weeks, almost 150 people are stranded out at sea in Malta’s SAR, while Malta waits for other European states to step in and offer support.
Yesterday morning, NGOs and media sources reported that some 78 migrants had been rescued from a vessel in distress in Malta’s SAR. They are currently aboard the Marina, a commercial vessel, close to Lampedusa waiting for directions from Malta, the state responsible for ensuring rescue and disembarkation in a safe port, about where to disembark. NGOs monitoring the migrants’ situation have reported that they are lacking food, water and medical care.
A further 57 rescued migrants are on board the Captain Morgan vessel, Europa II, normally used for coastal cruising. The Europa II was chartered by the Maltese government in order to board migrants that were transferred from the private vessel that rescued them. The government has stated that they will remain there, on the high seas, until there are concrete commitments for their relocation from other European states.