The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

European solution is the only immediate solution for immigrants at sea – Delia

Albert Galea Saturday, 23 May 2020, 13:05 Last update: about 6 days ago

A European solution is the only possible immediate solution for immigrants at sea, PN leader Adrian Delia said on Saturday.

Interviewed by journalist Brian Hansford on NET TV, Delia expressed his pre-occupation at the fact that European countries had thus far been reluctant to show solidarity with Malta as it faces as increasing tide of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa.

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Over 300 migrants are currently being held onboard three commercial tourist vessels outside Maltese waters after they were rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta, with the government insisting that Malta’s ports are not safe for disembarkation and that European countries must come to Malta’s aid. 

So far, only France has pledged to take 30 migrants off of Malta’s hands.

Delia said that this situation is not just a challenge, but a time bomb ticking towards a humanitarian tragedy which, contrary to relenting, is only going to worsen as the weeks go by.

He said that the situation is clear insofar as that there is a public health emergency ongoing, meaning that Malta’s ports are not safe for disembarkation.  What is mostly pre-occupying, Delia said, is the reluctance for European solidarity.

Asked whether he agreed with a pushback as a solution to the situation, Delia said that a pushback is not a solution primarily because it is in and of itself illegal under international law.

“There is no other immediate solution other than a European one”, he said when asked what he would do in this situation if he was Prime Minister.

He noted that in the longer term there are other solutions, such as more rigorous inspections and harsher penalties for traffickers along with direct interventions to help African countries.

Asked whether he thought NGOs were a help or a hindrance in this situation, Delia said that he will not generalize, noting that there are some who are genuine in their work and in wanting to save lives, but other who hide behind those genuine NGOs to perpetuate illegalities.

He added that the system of ad hoc agreements on a case by case basis cannot continue, and that there has to be a clear structure where there is an agreement on an effective asylum procedure and an effective redistributions system between European countries.

Moving onto the system for the appointment of Malta’s new Police Commissioner, Delia did not commit to have the PN take part in the parliamentary grilling of the chosen candidate – but did not exclude it either.

He said that there is still the need for some clarity as to how the process will take place, and reiterated that the PN’s position is that the next police commissioner should be one who serves without fear or favour.

He noted that the appointment of the person will still ultimately be made by the government – noting that the Public Service Commission, which is responsible for whittling down the candidates to a shortlist, is made up of two opposition members, two government members and a chairman nominated by the government – which ultimately means that there is a government majority in making this choice.

The PN had advocated for a system wherein the appointment of the Police Commissioner is made by a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Asked which other European country employs such a system, Delia said that there is no need for such a system in other countries.

“No other European country has had their institutions taken over like this; no other European country had their Prime Minister voted as the most corrupt person in the world; no other European country has 90% of its judiciary appointed for political reasons; no other European country saw the assassination of a journalist and nobody take responsibility; no other European country saw the Attorney General take a side against the people”, Delia said before continuing to reel off further examples such as Konrad Mizzi’s 100 million Vitals Global Healthcare guarantee and the granting of a cryptocurrency to Nexia BT – an auditing firm embroiled in the Panama Papers scandal amongst others.

“The problem is not the structure; it is the government of the day taking over the institutions and not letting them function”, he said.

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