MIGRANTS: Urgent call to Maltese government not to return migrants to Libya

9 July 2013


The government must not return the migrants who arrived in Malta this
morning to Libya. There are two very good reasons why: the first is that the
migrants will be subjected to torture and inhumane treatment if returned. And
the second is that such an action would be a blatant violation of our
international legal obligations.

We, the undersigned 11 NGOs, are shocked that the government is even
considering sending back to Libya the group of migrants that arrived this
morning. The group of 102 included 41 women and two babies. All are Somali,
which means they could very well need protection.

The action contemplated by the government is precisely what the Prime
Minister says it is not: it is a pushback, sending people who have come to our
shores to seek well-deserved refuge, back to a country where they may well be

We do not deny that the migrant issue is a challenge for the Maltese
government to tackle. However, it is unacceptable to use innocent people to
score points and to bargain, in a bid to put Malta in a stronger position at the
European burden-sharing table.

That the migrants will face gross human rights abuses if returned to Libya is a
certainty: those we met detailed the abuses they faced, especially in detention,
among them brutal beatings and shootings, which left some permanently
disabled. Those who return to Libya after attempting to reach Europe are
singled out for especially harsh punishment. These claims are backed by the
research of solid human rights organisations like Amnesty International and
Human Rights Watch.

Last week, the Court of Appeal ruled that the forced return of two Somali
nationals to Libya in 2004 violated their human rights. Of the six migrants who
were returned then, only two made it back to Malta. The rest died in the desert
when they were deported to the Libyan border after months of imprisonment
in terrible conditions.

This is a litmus test for us not only as a government but as a nation: we need to
avert the temptation to consider only our “national interest” and to remember  

that we have much wider moral and legal obligations. Only on Monday, in

Lampedusa, Pope Francis called us to a change of heart towards “these
brothers and sisters of ours trying to escape difficult situations to find some
serenity and peace” and who instead find death. We call on the Maltese
government not to send people back to torture and possibly even death.

This statement is being issued by the following organizations:

aditus foundation, Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), Migrant’s Network for
Equality, SOS Malta, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, KOPIN, Integra Foundation,
Foundation for Shelter and Support of Migrants, Organisation for Friendship in
Diversity, Koperativa Kumerc Gust and People for Change Foundation.

For further information contact:
Dr. Katrine Camilleri – 7985 8099 / 21442751

pdf: http://www.crin.org/docs/Malta - Joint Press Release.PDF


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