The Malta Independent 17 August 2019, Saturday

Indepth: ‘Such a tragedy can occur again if efforts to protect migrants are not addressed’

INDEPTH online Friday, 24 May 2019, 09:51 Last update: about 4 months ago

A tragedy like the Hal Far drive-by shooting can occur once more and there are concerns that there are more people out there harbouring similar intentions, according to Aditus director Neil Falzon.

Interviewed by The Malta Independent Editor in Chief Rachel Attard on this week’s edition of Indepth, Falzon said: ““We are extremely worried that there is a group of people or individuals with such motives. I am concerned that we are not doing enough to find these people and we are not doing enough to protect these migrants.”

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He said that there must be more of an effort to show these migrants that it is safe to live in Malta and that such violence is not acceptable here.

When asked whether members of the Armed Forces Malta are more racist than the rest of the population, Falzon believed that such comments do not do justice to the members of AFM.

“One must remember that there have been groups of soldiers who would worked in the migration detention centres, which is an extremely difficult job already, let alone when one has no experience in the field.”

He said that soldiers are not trained to be social workers.

Falzon was also a lawyer for the captain of the migrant rescue ship Lifeline, and who was fined €10,000 over a registration irregularity. When asked whether the Maltese courts were being racist, he replied that just because a court case did not go in favour of the group did not mean that the magistrate is racist.

“I believe the question is more profound than what you are asking; it is not that the court is racist but sometimes there are unnecessary comments made by the court which are racist.”

He mentioned that the magistrate would drive a point because they are migrants; and that it is not the role of the magistrate to stress what the role of the migrant is but their role is to follow the law and provide a sentence.   

 

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Earlier story

The two migrants that were shot in Hal Far last month, in a racially-motivated incident that left another migrant dead, are too scared to leave their rooms or to speak to lawyers or anyone who is ready to help them psychologically, financially and emotionally, according to Neil Falzon, director of Aditus Foundation, said on Indepth.

Interviewed by The Malta Independent Editor in Chief, Rachel Attard, Falzon said the two men who were with Lassana Cisse on 6 April might have recovered physically, yet are left psychologically traumatised.

"I am going to be slightly critical at the system, as after this horrible accident took place these two migrants did not receive any form of help as victims of a crime." He explained that there is a law that states that victims of crime have the right to be directed in the correct manner to any form of aid they may need.

 "These men received no form of help from the state, nor have they received a status as a victim of a crime. So not only did someone shoot at them, but they did not find any support afterwards, therefore they are left to feel that they cannot trust anyone."

Falzon said the country went into a state of shock after the murder and after the news broke that two AFM soldiers were behind it. What has been identified as the first racially motivated murder in Malta has left many critical of the current situation of racism in the country, he said.

We need to introduce the process of normalisation of migrants in Maltese society and that as a nation we should take a role in the process of removing racism from society, Falzon said when asked how to tackle the issue of racism. He noted that we never see people of different race or colour on Maltese billboards, television shows and adverts.

"We always see the same people, the same faces. Malta is not like what is being advertised."

Falzon said that educating the future generations is an important key factor. "We need to educate our children to realise that there are many different kinds of cultures and people in the world and that there is nothing wrong with being different."

It should also be noted, he said, that people in politics are speaking about migration and migrants, and that negative discourse on the subject should end all together. "Over the past few weeks we have seen horrendous discussions regarding migrants. It is not acceptable in a democratic society that we perceive these people as second class citizens."

"We have a history of colonisation, where many foreigners have come and taken our resources and we are an extremely small island. Being an island also has an impact on the mentality of the community; we have been raised to believe that there are not enough resources, space and time for us."

Falzon explained that the Maltese have been raised to hurry up with their studies, to find a job and to buy a place and that all of a sudden these foreigners will come and take the very little resources there are for the Maltese.

"We are scared of foreigners because we are scared they will take something away from us."


 

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