Joint Statement: The EU must stop the criminalisation of solidarity with migrants and refugees

Brussels, 26 July 2019

The criminalisation of solidarity in Europe is soaring. Researchers and civil society have identified at least 49 ongoing cases of investigation and criminal prosecution in 11 Member States involving a total of 158 people in a recent study by the European research platform ReSOMA. The number of individuals criminalised for humanitarian activities has grown tenfold, from 10 people in 2015 to 104 in 2018.

The targets include volunteers, activists, NGOs, crew members of rescue ships, migrants’ family members, and also journalists, mayors and priests. The recent arrest of the Sea Watch 3 captain, Carola Rackete, is just the latest example of how people are being blamed for saving migrants’ lives and providing the humanitarian assistance which Member States are unwilling or unable to provide, despite being obliged to according to international and EU law.

Independent judges have found no sound evidence for convictions in most of these cases. This suggests that prosecutions are often being politically used to deter solidarity and create a hostile environment for migrants. Policing solidarity further involves suspicion, intimidation, harassment and disciplining against civil society, with long-term consequences for the rule of law, democratic accountability, social cohesion, freedom of association and fundamental rights in the EU. These misguided investigations fuel the negative image of migrants as criminals and perpetuate the perception of chaos at Europe’s borders.

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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urges Malta to reconsider the charges against the 3 El Hiblu migrants

Taken from the OHCHR website, 7 May 2019.

We call on the authorities in Malta to reconsider the terrorism charges laid against three teenagers who were arrested on 28 March following the docking of the El Hiblu I commercial vessel in the country.

The charges relate to an incident that occurred at the end of March, when some 100 migrants attempting to flee Libya were rescued in international waters by a commercial vessel that was en route to Libya. The vessel reportedly rescued the migrants and initially informed them that they would be taken to Europe but then turned around to head back to Libya. The migrants protested in desperation and the ship was steered again toward Malta. The accused, aged 15, 16 and 19, have been charged under Maltese laws for allegedly hijacking the ship and forcing it to go to Malta. Some of the charges are punishable by life imprisonment. We understand that the three are due to appear in court on 20 May.

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Malta can and must do better!

Joint NGO appeal to the Prime Minister to resolve the Alan Kurdi standoff

We strongly urge Malta to allow the disembarkation of the over 60 people rescued over nine days ago by the Alan Kurdi. In doing so, Malta will ensure a humane end to this incident that prioritises the preservation of lives over political and legal considerations. Whilst we appreciate that these considerations are of course central to the determination of responsibilities and obligations, these should not override or ignore the need to ensure the safety of all rescued persons and of the rescuing crew.

We remind Malta and the European Union that Libya cannot be considered a safe port of disembarkation. Countless reports have been revealing the appalling human rights violations suffered by migrants in Libya. Furthermore, the recent escalation of violence in the country highlights the increased lack of security for Libyans and migrants alike. Forcibly returning migrants, as also Libyan nationals, to Libya would expose them to torture, sexual violence, arbitrary detention, discrimination and – in some cases – death.

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We express solidarity and deep sorrow

Joint NGO Statement on the murder of Lassibe Souleymane

We are deeply saddened by news of the death of Lassibe Souleymane, brutally shot in Ħal Far over the weekend. We also wish all the very best to the two other victims of the shooting, and hope they recover without permanent or serious damage. Whatever the actual reasons for this terrible incident, it affects not only the three victims but the entire migrant community in creating a sense of fear, lack of security and isolation. It also affects us all, a nation jolted by an appalling act of violence.

As we eagerly await the outcome of the investigations, we urge Malta’s highest authorities to unequivocally condemn all forms of violence – whatever their motivation. We caution that, should it emerge that this was in fact a racially-motivated incident, Malta would be called upon to face far more than an act of assault, but far graver crime aimed at instilling terror in entire communities.

Secondly, we expect the Malta Police Force to step up: commit all necessary resources to bring the perpetrators to justice; ensure the survivors are treated as victims of crime and guaranteed all the support and protection they need.

Importantly we underline the need to comfort and express solidarity with all residents of Ħal Far, assuring that all will be done to restore good order and security for the locality’s communities.


Statement endorsed by the following organisations:

  1. aditus foundation
  2. African Media Association Malta
  3. Allied Rainbow Communities (arc)
  4. Blue Door English
  5. The Critical Institute
  6. Department for Inclusion and Access to Learning, University of Malta
  7. Drachma LGBTI
  8. Drachma Parents
  9. Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants
  10. Integra Foundation
  11. International Association for Refugees
  12. Isles of the Left
  13. Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta)
  14. Kopin
  15. LGBTI Plus Gozo
  16. Malta Emigrants’ Commission
  17. Malta Humanist Association
  18. Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement
  19. Men Against Violence
  20. Moviment Graffitti
  21. National Foster Care Association Malta
  22. Richmond Foundation
  23. Solidarity with Migrants
  24. SOS Malta
  25. Spark15
  26. Sudanese Community Malta
  27. Victim Support Malta
  28. Women’s Rights Foundation

Making Malta Home! NGO Response to the Launch of the Specific Residence Authorisation policy

We are happy to welcome the Specific Residence Authorisation policy, launched today by the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security and the Parliamentary Secretariat for Reforms, Citizenship and Simplification of Administrative Processes. The policy will ensure the security, stability and dignity for those migrants who, throughout the years, have invested their energies and dreams into making Malta their home.

As announced today, the new policy will be accessible by current holders of the Temporary Humanitarian Protection N status. It will also be accessible by persons who cannot be returned to their countries of origin and who, during their time in Malta, have demonstrated integration efforts.

The SRA policy will therefore offer eligible persons the possibility to make the significant shift from a temporary – and therefore insecure – situation to one that embraces the principles of transparency and predictability. Importantly, the SRA policy will also contribute towards combating migrant poverty and the anxiety that inevitably ensues from living in an eternal limbo.

Essentially, we appreciate that the SRA policy is a clear acknowledgement by the relevant authorities of the personal, social, financial and other contributions made by so many migrants in Malta.

In doing so, Malta is taking a bold step towards fostering a truly inclusive society.

We are looking forward to the implementation of the new policy, and offer our support to ensure its smooth operation.

Finally, we thank the Ministry for the consultation process that permitted the ‘This is Home’ campaign to share its views in a frank and open manner. We reiterate our support of this form of engagement, and look forward to other similar interactions with the Ministry on matters of mutual concern.


‘This is Home’ campaign is composed of:

aditus foundation, African Media Association Malta, The Critical Institute, Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants, Gender Liberation, Integra Foundation, International Association for Refugees, JRS Malta, KOPIN, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Maltese-Serbian Community, MGRM, Migrant Women Association in Malta, Moroccan Community in Malta, Moviment Graffitti, Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, the People for Change Foundation, the Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta, SKOP, Solidarity with Migrants Group, SOS Malta, Spark 15, Sudanese Community, Third Country National Support Network, Women’s Rights Foundation.