The Malta Independent 14 November 2018, Wednesday

Diciotti migrants said they were ‘advocating right for free passage’ – PM

Albert Galea Thursday, 13 September 2018, 12:23 Last update: about 3 months ago

The migrants who were caught up in the Diciotti standoff had told Malta that they did not require help and that they were advocating their right of free and safe passage, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Thursday morning.

Reacting to a statement made by Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday, wherein he accused Malta of abandoning the migrants when there were clear signs that the vessel was in imminent danger of sinking, Muscat said that this declaration was ‘unfortunately incorrect’ and that Malta had followed all international laws and regulations in handling the case.

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Muscat explained that Malta had indeed offered assistance to the migrants, but they had refused the aid offered.  As a result, Malta could not intercept the vessel as per international law.

The Prime Minister explained that he took comfort in the fact that no international institutions have pointed their fingers at Malta in terms of how the country has handled these recent migration cases.

He added that while it is not ‘the flavour of the day’ to talk about the boats passing through the Mediterranean; that does not mean that indeed there are no boats travelling across the Middle Sea. It means however that things ‘are becoming normalised’ and that ‘there are no particular conflicts’.

The Diciotti case was the latest saga to do with migration between Malta and Italy, with Italy’s with firebrand home affairs minister Matteo Salvini accusing Malta of shirking its duties and transport minister Danilo Toninelli urging sanctions against Malta.

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