The Malta Independent 5 December 2021, Sunday

All areas inside Safi Detention Centre will be completely refurbished in coming months

Sunday, 24 October 2021, 09:34 Last update: about 2 months ago

All areas inside the Safi Detention Centre will be completely refurbished in the coming months, a government spokesperson has said.

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović recently visited Malta and issued a statement. Among other things, the Commissioner visited the Safi Detention Centre and two open centres in Hal Far. While noting the recent efforts made to improve living conditions in these centres, the Commissioner said that she was struck by the deplorable situation in Block A in the Safi Detention Centre.

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She strongly urged the authorities to take immediate action to ensure dignified conditions for all those currently held there. The Commissioner had also stressed that the human rights of those in distress at sea should never be put at risk.  Particularly, the authorities should ensure that their actions do not lead, either directly or indirectly, to returns to Libya, which is not a safe place for disembarkation, she said.

The Maltese government has said, in response, that the Safi Detention Centre has undergone extensive maintenance and renovation works in the past months, which intend to improve living conditions in the living quarters while making the compounds safer and more secure.

The government said that the Commissioner visited areas with works in progress as well as refurbished parts. “These works will address issues raised by the Commissioner and a commitment to finish works within an agreed timeframe was made during the meetings. Unfortunately, Malta’s exposure to migratory pressure does not make it possible to carry out works in all the compounds simultaneously, and the part referred to by the Commissioner is the last remaining area that has not yet been refurbished. Nevertheless, works are still ongoing, and all areas inside the Safi Detention Centre will be completely refurbished in the coming months.” 

The government spokesperson said that the Armed Forces of Malta are continuously saving lives in the Mediterranean Sea. “The Maltese government is concurrently promoting cooperation with countries of origin and transit to ease burdens of migratory pressures and to strengthen the fight against human smuggling. Furthermore, in parallel, efforts to enhance the development of such countries and the role of international humanitarian organisation are strongly being pursued.”

The government said that the claim that Malta has returned migrants to Libya “is therefore strongly refuted” and the Government maintained that Malta has consistently fulfilled its international obligations. “Search and rescue activities at sea are in line with the country’s international obligations,” a government spokesperson said.

The Commissioner had also said that “Implementing the recommendations of the public inquiry report which found that the state must bear responsibility for Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination should be a top priority for the government.” She had said that the authorities should swiftly start putting in place the far-reaching reforms needed to ensure journalists’ safety and address mistrust in the media in Malta. “This should begin with a co-ordinated response to threats and harassment against journalists, including online, in order to provide adequate protection measures.”

The government said it is consulting international and national stakeholders about reforms to strengthen the journalistic profession, including by implementing anti-SLAPP measures and that legislative proposals will be presented in parliament in the near future. “These reforms will complement the various other reforms that the Maltese government implemented during the last two years to strengthen democracy.”

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