The Malta Independent 23 January 2021, Saturday

Updated (2): 52 migrants open constitutional case against government alleging human rights breaches

Wednesday, 4 November 2020, 13:53 Last update: about 4 months ago
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NGO Repubblika has said that it will be supporting 52 people in a constitutional case opened on Wednesday against Prime Minister Robert Abela, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri and Army Chief Jeffrey Curmi.

The case was opened by relatives of two people - Mogos Tesfamichael Welday and Filimon Mengsteab Ghebremedhin - "who were left to die of thirst or drown in a 'rescue' operation coordinated by Malta last April. "

Together with the 50 migrants, the relatives asked the court to declare that Malta had violated the right to life of their brothers as enshrined in the constitution and the European convention on human rights.


By government order, the 50 people who were on the same boat were loaded onto a government-commissioned boat and taken to concentration camps in Libya.

The incident took place shortly after Easter when for days the government ordered boats with immigrants on board to be left unassisted, despite their boats not moving and calling for rescue, Repubblika said.

The NGO said that a FRONTEX airplane saw the boat of these migrants in the guarded waters of Malta early in the morning on 11 April and they had been in the water for at least 3 days.

"The Maltese government detained the manned patrol boats of the Maltese army and after much delay it sent the fishing boat Dar Al Salam 1 to collect them. It was a boat that left the Grand Harbour and arrived near the migrant's early morning, on 14 April. By that time several migrants had died."

Meanwhile, the other 50 applicants out of the survivors were placed on the fishing boat and left without water and food until they reached Tripoli.

Repubblika stated that some of their peers who were also on the boat died on the trip back to Tripoli and were not given any medical treatment. "Due to the fact that the boat was hired by the government, Dar Al Salam 1 was a Maltese state agent but did not taken into account the fact that the migrants had United Nations certificates seeking asylum."

"It is an obligation of this country, which according to European laws, must give an opportunity to anyone arriving in Malta to have their asylum application considered," the organisation said.

Upon arrival in Tripoli, the migrants were taken to concentration camps where they were illegally arrested and treated inhumanely.

The applications of the 50 migrants also asked the court to declare that Malta has breached its obligations under European law to consider asylum applications.

Repubblika said that today's case asks the court to order Malta to allow these 50 migrants to come to Malta and apply for asylum.

The lawyer representing the 52 people is Paul Borg Olivier.

PL statement

In a statement published by the Labour Party, it said that the opposition and Nationalist Party Leader Bernard Grech, "together with the NGO Repubblika of which he forms part of, stated that he will also support the case to bring 50 immigrants from Libya to Malta, and to condemn the Maltese government as well as the Armed Forces of Malta. "

"The constitutional case that was opened on Wednesday against Prime Minister Robert Abela, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri and against the Armed Forces is another attack on the interest of Malta and the people of our country," it said.

"PN Leader Bernard Grech, a keynote speaker in activities of the same republic, is showing that he is controlled by Jason Azzopardi and those who made him leader of the Nationalist Party, instead of being on the side of the Maltese and Gozitans."

Labour Party disrespects autonomy and role of civil society in our country - PN

The Nationalist Party outright stated that the Labour Party does not respect the autonomy of civil society and the role that it plays in a democracy.

In a statement published on Wednesday, the PN said that the Labour Party is also showing that it has learnt nothing from the role that the civil society has played in overthrowing the government of its predecessor, Joseph Muscat.

The statement read that "instead of the party wasting in baseless and truthless attacks, it would be better if the party stopped defending people close to it who continue to damage the credibility and reputation of our country by threatening the economy and the livelihood of its people."

"The Maltese and Gozitan people need hope through a vision that will inspire us in our political work together with all those of good will, regardless of opinion, we will dialogue until we find the widest possible consensus on solutions needed in various economic, social, political and cultural areas," it said.

"Only then, together we can support our country so that we can really grow and strengthen together." 


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