The Malta Independent 16 September 2019, Monday

We don’t value life according to someone’s nationality – Joseph Muscat

Kevin Schembri Orland Friday, 12 April 2019, 12:20 Last update: about 6 months ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that Malta does not value someone’s life according to their nationality, and that if anyone feels unsafe, regardless of where they are from, then it is government’s duty to ensure that they are protected.

During a press conference, Muscat was asked abot the recent shooting incident in Hal Far. A 42-year-old man from the Ivory Coast was killed with a shot to the head in the incident, while two other men, a Georgian national and another who is believed to be from Ghana, were also hit by gunfire.

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Muscat was asked whether he is worried about antagonism between different nationalities growing in Malta given the upcoming MEP elections and the rise of far-right parties in the EU. He said that what is important is that “we do not foment this ourselves.” He said that he is refusing to be dragged into a narrative as to whether it was a hate crime or not, and stressed that he is not saying it was or wasn’t.

The police, till today, he said, have not closed their investigation, and are not satisfied enough to make these conclusions. He urged that, even those with the best intentions, should not push one theory over another as it would play into the hands of those who want to spark the fire of hatred. 

Aside from this, he said, he pointed at companies who employ a large number of foreigners and Maltese as examples of how communities from different countries work together. He said that the way to look at it is as a form of collaboration as without foreigners, jobs for some Maltese would have been lost as the employers would have gone to other countries due to them not finding enough employees.

Asked about migrants in the area around the where the shooting took place expressing their concerns about safety, and whether government will be looking into that situation, Muscat said that the police took note of all of this, as they took note of concerns from people as was the case in Marsa who felt unsafe. “We don’t value life according to someone’s nationality, but if someone feels unsafe, it is our duty to ensure they are protected. That is what happens and it happens without the beating of drums.”

This newsroom asked Muscat about a statement released yesterday by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and UNICEF, who expressed serious concern over the situation of the 62 migrants and refugees rescued on 3 April by the Alan Kurdi, operated by the NGO Sea Eye, "who have still not been guaranteed a safe port for disembarkation." The ship is currently off the coast of Malta. This newsroom also asked Muscat whether Malta still considers Libya a safe country given the recent fighting near Tripoli.

“We act according to international maritime Law. The rescue by the Alan Kurdi was conducted near Libya. It seems that there was some form of communication far from Malta, closer to Libya, Tunisia and Italy. The place furthest away was Malta. For some reason the vessel decided not to go to Tunisia, which is considered a safe country, and opted to go to Italy which did not let them in. Now they came towards Malta. I believe that it would not be just to point fingers at Malta and say that it did not do something that it has a duty to do. This is a situation Malta did not create and we are being asked to solve it. We are always ready to help in solutions but it cannot be that we carry the weight.”

“During the EL Hiblu situation, we did not stay saying one thing or another. We did what we had to do. In this current case, we cannot send a signal that other countries can do what they want and dump the problem on Malta. There is ongoing contact. We made this point clear with the institutions and the persons concerned. We await developments, but what is sure is that it cannot be Malta to carry the weight of a problem which we did not create.”

Asked about the situation in Libya, and whether Malta will be offering assistance like in 2011, Muscat said that the less one interferes between the Libyans the better, "and I think that the solution must be a political one, and without a doubt one that promotes stability in their country. Contact with all sides in Libya occurs frequently. We are one of the few countries who have the credibility to speak with everyone. We will not be pushing to play mediators and if sides want to talk to us we will. I emphasise that we are speaking with the Libyan government and other forces. The reality in Libya over the past years is that you need to speak to everyone. We were not asked to provide any kind of assistance in this regard and speculation that people will come for care is not true as there is no request in this regard."

Asked about the Corinthia negotiations, he stressed that it is not happening behind the peoples’ backs and that government said it will go to Parliament and the contract would have to be approved there. Asked if it will be published before May, he said it will be published when it will be ready.

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