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.
The Malta Independent carried an interview on the idea of renting a quarantine ship for rescued migrants. The idea is not new: Italy has also resorted to this measure.
Read the full interview here.
“Yet we find it somewhat absurd that we have normalised the idea of forcing people to live on a ship for a number of weeks. Neil Falzon, aditus foundation Director
Let’s remember that quarantine is a form of detention and there are clear rules on how a State can detain people, even in the case of disease prevention,” he explained.
“Indefinite detention is definitely not allowed, as is detention in a place where living conditions are undignified and abysmal.”
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.
Hey all! Hope everyone is safe! I am currently writing this blog post at 12am…I know I should be sleeping but there is something on my mind that I feel like sharing with you.
On 25 May 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. It all happened on a Monday night. An employee at a Minneapolis grocery store called police after Floyd allegedly tried to pass a forged cheque. CCTV footage shows that Floyd was compliant to the orders given by the policemen. A police officer handcuffed him and pinned him to the ground, kneeling on his neck. Video recorded by a bystander shows a white police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 7 minutes. Despite witnesses telling the officer that his life was in danger, this continued. Floyd repeatedly says, “I can’t breathe,” and then, “I’m about to die.” But as the officer removed his knee it was too late, as George Floyd was already dead. As the footage of this act was posted on social media, protests started at the spot where Floyd died.
But why am I talking about a man that was killed in the USA?
Well, racially motivated violence is a problem all over the world, even here in Malta.
In May 2009, Suleiman Abubaker died after a bouncer at a famous club in Paceville, pushed him to the ground. Suleiman Abubaker suffered a fractured skull and lung contusions. He fell into a coma and died 11 days later. The killing of Suleiman is still unpunished. The bouncer was only fined 500 Euros for a missing licence, but nothing for the death of a human being.
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.