The Government of Malta’s call on the European Commission to look into bypassing, waiving or otherwise ignoring the principle of non-refoulement should absolutely not be entertained by the European Union’s executive body. It is this fundamental principle that, for centuries, has protected the lives of millions of refugees. Setting it aside would effectively sign the death sentence for all those people who continue to run away from their homes in search of safety.
Enshrined in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and a host of other human rights instruments, the rule strictly prohibits States from returning refugees to places where their lives are threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion and membership of a particular social group. It also protects all persons from being sent to countries where they would face serious human rights violations such as the death penalty, torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.
Yet the rule is more than a legal principle. It understands that some governments simply cannot, or refuse to protect their own citizens. In such situations, other states are called to intervene and to offer protection to persons who would otherwise be left stranded, vulnerable to terrible treatment and, at worst, killed. At its heart, the principle embodies humanity’s spirit of solidarity with one another.
It is therefore with extreme repulsion that the undersigned Maltese non-governmental organisations read of Malta’s appeal to brush this value aside. As with all state policies, migration and asylum management can never be based on an approach that tramples on the dignity and rights of persons.
We therefore strongly urge the European Commission to refrain from taking any action at all on Malta’s requests. Anything short of an absolute and clear non-engagement will inevitably result in complicity in flouting the Union’s values and making these Europe’s darkest days.
Press Statement of:
aditus foundation, African Media Association, Arab-Maltese Community, The Critical Institute, Integra Foundation, International Association for Refugees, JRS Malta, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Migrants’ Network for Equality, Moviment Graffitti, Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, The People for Change Foundation, Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta, SOS Malta, Spark 15, Sudanese Community in Malta.