Malta Refugee Council demands and official inquiry into the death of a young girl
At the end of August, Loujin, a four-year old Syrian girl, boarded a wooden fishing vessel on Lebanon’s coast with her mother and one year old sister, Mira, and set out across the sea with over sixty other people from Syria, Palestine and Lebanon.
Running out of basic provisions and taking on water, they began sending out distress signals on 2 September, 2022. Those distress signals were immediately relayed to the Maltese authorities.Joint Press Statement on the vigil for Loujin held on 16 September 2022
Publicly available information on Loujin’s tragic death is conflicting. One version claims Malta was alerted to the distress situation on 3 September and that no concrete action was taken to secure the lives of the persons aboard the fishing boat. Another version claims that Malta was informed on 6 September and every step was taken to protect all lives, including that of Loujin.
The version everyone must agree on is that Loujin did not survive the ordeal, dying of thirst in her mother’s arms.
In situations where a person dies under a State’s watch – such as in prison, in hospital or in a police station – we normally expect the authorities to investigate and clarify the circumstances that led to the persons’ death. If anyone if identified as being responsible for the person’s death, we normally expect them to be brought before the Courts to answer for their actions.
We expect these normal expectations to be fulfilled in relation to Loujin’s terrible death. Malta has a legal responsibility to coordinate the rescue of all persons found to be in distress in its Search and Rescue Zone. This responsibility must be carried out without discrimination. Since it is not clear whether Malta played an active part in her death:
- We expect the authorities to open an independent and impartial inquiry to investigate all related circumstances;
- We expect the authorities to clarify and publish exactly what happened;
- We also expect the authorities to bring before the Courts anyone found to be directly or indirectly responsible for her death, whoever this might be.
Justice demands that Loujins’ death be properly explained. Press statements, tweets and similar statements do not live up to democtratic standards of accountability and transparency.