The Malta Independent 20 October 2020, Tuesday

Miriam Dalli denies voting to keep Maltese ports open; ‘twisting of facts unacceptable’

Tuesday, 21 April 2020, 13:15 Last update: about 7 months ago

PL MEP Miriam Dalli has denied claims that were made in a report on a web portal that she had voted in favour of Malta keeping its ports during the Covid-19 pandemic, saying that any twisting of facts is unacceptable.

She said this in a Facebook post to explain her vote at the European Parliament last Thursday.

The contents of the amendment are as follows; “Calls on Member States to abide by their obligation under international law to assist ships in distress and provide a place for disembarkation for people who have been saved at sea, including by civil society boats and merchant vessels; recalls that solution should be found to protect lives and health of both people in distress at sea and the people on land.”

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The amendment was rejected with 301 in favour, 367 against and 20 abstentions. 

Dalli was accused of going against the stand taken by the government to close Malta's ports during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Later on in the day, Dalli took it to Facebook to deny these claims, stating that “any twisting of facts is unacceptable”.

“It is completely untrue that I voted for Malta to be a rescue centre or for its ports to remain open. The amendment is a call for all European member states to follow their international obligations,” the post read. “If I thought that Malta did not follow these obligations I would have voted against it because we would have had things to hide. However, Malta has always abided with its international obligations.”

She explained that the amendment speaks of the need for countries to provide a place where migrants can disembark and pointed out that Malta has already stated that according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, disembarkation of saved migrants can take place in the country where the rescue ship is registered, that is its flag state.

She added that the amendment emphasises that there needs to be a solution for this ever growing debate on immigration and that all lives should be protected, which is something Malta has always done.

“I have been working on this issue at the EP for six years and I have always put my country’s interests first as I know that we have always done our best in this regard but that we also have limitations,” she concluded.

The issue of migration has become a hot topic as of late due to the number of migrant ships that were detected by Frontex in the Mediterranean over the Easter weekend.

This resulted in a number of deaths while most survivors were sent back to Libya.

Malta faced a lot of backlash from NGOs because of this but Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo retaliated by calling on the EU to launch a humanitarian mission that would ‘incentivise’ migrants to stay in Libya rather than face the dangers of a sea crossing.

The Malta Independent reported that this call is being considered and the issue will be discussed at the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in the coming days.

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In reaction, the PN delegation at the EP wrote: “The obligation to save lives of people at sea does not mean that there should be an end to migration controls or that border management should not be strengthened. For example, this amendment would have excluded the option for people to be saved at sea, medical cases addressed but kept in quarantine aboard a vessel to address COVID concerns- which is an option that has been used by other frontline states. It puts the onus totally on EU Member States while excluding safe third countries from also playing their part. It is a far-left amendment that had no place in the text. The PN delegation’s position has always been totally consistent - save lives and have an all-encompassing migration policy - fair with those in need of protection, firm with those who do not and strong with those abusing of the most vulnerable on our planet. Labour’s policy remains anyone’s guess, it changes according to who speaks”.

 

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