Shameful treatment of arrested migrants is a manifestation of institutionalised racism

NGO Statement – aditus foundation, Integra Foundation, Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta)

We strongly condemn the manner in which the Malta Police Force escorted a group of arrested migrants, including a number of minors, to Court this morning.

Publicly available images and videos show the arrested migrants brought to Court via one of Malta’s busiest pedestrian streets. All men were tied together in pairs with cable ties,  seemed to be wearing the same clothes they had on when arrested yesterday and it was reported that some were without shoes. A large number of accompanying Police officers were wearing white sanitary gloves.

We believe this treatment to be inhumane and prejudicial to the presumption of innocence principle. International and European standards include the State obligation to ensure that suspects are not presented in Court or in public in a manner that infers guilt. This treatment also amounts to institutionalised racism since this way of parading accused persons seems to be reserved to non-Maltese nationals.

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Future Generations Guardian must be dismissed following his racist comments

JOINT NGO reaction to comments made by the Guardian of Future Generations

The undersigned non-governmental organisations strongly condemn the racist comments by Mr. Maurice Mizzi, nominated as Guardian of Future Generations by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

According to Government’s mission statement, Mr. Mizzi’s role is to “endeavour to facilitate closer collaboration between all stakeholders in the pursuit of the right balance between socio-economic development and environmental stewardship in the Maltese Islands.

Finding a balance between socio-economic development and environmental stewardship is achievable by fostering inclusion, and certainly not by condemning difference, or singling out any particular religious belief. Mr. Mizzi seems to forget the responsibility that comes with his role and the essential point that the most important factor to achieve development and guarantee future generations is peace.

We, the undersigned, firmly believe that peace relies wholly on acceptance and inclusion; this means that people are entitled to have their own religious beliefs, or no religious beliefs at all. Singling out one religious belief as impeding development is untrue. It foments hate, something we can ill afford to increase in our small country because it only leads to violence, death and destruction, as very recent incidents in Malta have shown. 

We remind Mr. Mizzi that migrants are generally fleeing from war, socio-political persecution and economic hardship, often induced by interests beyond their countries’ borders. Mr. Mizzi’s declaration contradicts the Prime Minister’s statement about the need for more workers, irrespective of religion, origin or colour.

Finally we remind Mr. Mizzi that it is his role to ensure that no person’s work is exploited in the name of socio-economic development, and protecting our environment from over-exploitation is part of his job. 

The undersigned do not tolerate any form of racist discourse. There can be no space for this kind of ideology or language in our country.

In the light of such racist declarations, we demand his immediate resignation or removal by the Prime Minister as his position is no longer tenable.


This statement is endorsed by:

  1. aditus foundation
  2. African Media Association
  3. Allied Rainbow Communities
  4. Catholic Voices
  5. Cross Culture International Foundation
  6. Department of Gender Studies (University of Malta)
  7. Drachma LGBTI
  8. Drachma Parents Group
  9. Eritrean Refugees community Association in Malta
  10. Fondazzjoni Sebħ
  11. Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants
  12. Integra Foundation
  13. International Association for Refugees
  14. JRS Malta
  15. KOPIN
  16. Malta Emigrants Commission
  17. Malta Humanist Association
  18. Migrant Women Association Malta
  19. Moviment Graffitti
  20. National Foster Care Association Malta
  21. People for Change Foundation
  22. Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta
  23. Repubblika
  24. Richmond Foundation
  25. Solidarity with Migrants Group
  26. SOS Malta
  27. Spark15
  28. Sudanese Migrants Association
  29. The Critical Institute
  30. Troupe18:45
  31. Dr. Elena Tanti Burlo
  32. Dr. Colin Calleja
  33. Ms. Louise Chircop
  34. Professor Peter Mayo
  35. Professor Duncan Paul Mercieca
  36. Dr. Josephine Milton
  37. Professor Paul Pace
  38. Ms. Jacqueline Zammit


Lassana’s death: A call to action

Joint Civil Society Statement

We are shocked and saddened beyond words by the confirmation that the drive-by shooting on April 6th which left Lassana Cisse dead and two other men seriously injured was an act of racial hatred.

That the two men suspected of committing this heinous crime are members of the Armed Forces of Malta – a state institution that is there to protect us – makes it even more reprehensible.

It would be tempting to disassociate ourselves from this crime, to dismiss it as a random act, perpetrated by one or two deranged individuals. But we know that it is not, because we daily come in contact with people who are treated as less than human, by individuals and institutions, because of their religion or the colour of their skin.

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Working together to combat racism in Maltese football

When issuing licenses for teams to participate in European competitions, the Malta Football Association must ensure that football clubs comply with a number of standards issued by the Union of European Football Association (UEFA). One of these requirements is that clubs actively combat racism. David Abulafia, an English historian, refers to the Mediterranean as “probably the most vigorous place of interaction between different societies on the face of this planet” which highlights the importance of such initiatives.  

A 2017 study conducted by Johann Caruana questioned whether footballers experience racism in Malta. He found that “Malta is another Mediterranean country in which football racism is present”. He interviewed ten athletes, nine of whom confirmed this reality. One of the respondents claimed that racism in Maltese football is subtle and labelled it, “not a nice nothing”, while other respondents described it as being, “something disturbing”.

On 6 April Malta FA teamed up with us to conduct a session discussing racism in football with local football clubs. The session started with Peter Busuttil, representing Malta FA, giving an overview of the various initiatives and projects implemented by Malta FA, such as All In – All for Football. Peter also underlined how some of Malta FA’s previous initiatives have also been recognised by UEFA for best practice amongst all the other European football associations.

The most prominent football teams on the island were present. Their representatives came with a positive attitude showcasing their goodwill and genuine love for the sport. In fact, they participated wholeheartedly in the conversation showing that such opportunities to voice their opinions are sorely needed.

Although everyone recognised the fact that racism is present in Maltese football, they held that such an attitude is not coming from within the administration of the respective football teams. They commented that racism in football is simply a reflection of a wider sentiment present in today’s society.



The discussion then veered towards establishing a proper definition of racism and what practices should be prohibited with club premises and activities. Some argued that jokes in the locker-rooms should not be considered racist as they are endemic to every team and necessary in order to have a united group of players.

Our Director (Neil), acting as discussion facilitator, recognised such dynamics whilst explaining typical minority/majority power dynamics, cautioning  that a player might choose not to show his true emotions in order to avoid being alienated from the group. Most representatives agreed with this point and highlighted the fact that it should be the manager’s responsibility to make sure that players respect each other.

Another interesting point was raised by a representative of the Maltese Youth FA. She pointed out that there are a number of conditions which a young player must satisfy before being allowed to participate in a competitive match. This might result in excluding some youth players from taking part in the sport, particularly young people from disadvantaged contexts such as refugees and migrants.

During the session we learnt that, in Malta, we also have a Match Observer role with a number of responsibilities. One of these is to note and report any racial discrimination or abuse occurring during the match. The Match Observer present during our discussion stated that, whilst during last year’s season there were five reported incidents, this year there was only one reported incident. However, the Match Observer clearly expressed the fact that racism in Maltese stadiums is present, claiming that “ir-razziżmu huwa lampanti”.

It was clear throughout the sessions that both the Malta FA and local football clubs firmly oppose all forms of racism and recognise that it is in their interests for such attitudes to be abolished. Enforcement remained a disputed issue, with the clubs underlining the challenges posed by a system that requires them to monitor their fans’ behaviour during a football match. They also pointed out that identifying the perpetrators of racial chants is complicated since in most cases fans from different clubs sit in the same stands.

We are extremely happy to have collaborated with Malta FA on this important initiative.

It underlined the need for all stakeholders to continue this dialogue in order identify the best way to prevent and tackle racism in football.

We look forward to maintaining this engagement with Malta FA, as we believe in the power of football to bring about social change and to foster refugee and migrant integration.

Neil Falzon, aditus foundation Director

Our Director, Neil, talking about the need for football clubs to have clear rules on what is and what is not acceptable on their premises.