A report by The People for Change Foundation “Access to Protection: A human right” argues that the principle of non-refoulement applies to both interception or rescue operations, whether or not it was carried out by official vessels or by private vessels coordinated by the state.
The report, which can be read in the pdf link below, calls on the government to consistently respect the principle of non-refoulement in line with its international legal obligations.
It also called on the government to ensure that respect for human rights, including the rights of non-nationals, is a priority in its negotiations with the Libyan government and authorities.
The study called on the European Union to ensure that any designation of a specific place of safety as the location of disembarkation be coupled with solidarity measures to assist the state of disembarkation in the attendant responsibilities which consequently become incumbent upon it.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli said Malta re-affirmed its commitment to abide by its international obligations including the European Convention on Human Rights and the Geneva Refugee Convention.
She said Malta had a good track record when it came to the protection of migrants who would otherwise be exposed to persecution or serious harm and reiterated that the government upheld the principle of non-refoulement.
Dr Dalli said the asylum recognition rate in Malta exceeded 50 per cent.
PN spokeswoman Claudette Buttigieg said in a statement this evening that Dr Dalli’s speech was not in tune with the Prime Minister’s attempt to implement a push back policy in July.
Non-governmental organisations involved in the sector made a formal request to the European Court of Human Rights, which kept the government from pushing back the immigrants to Libya in the middle of the night.
The government, Ms Buttigieg said, should safeguard human rights with conviction and not because it was constrained to do so by an international authority.
In view of this, Dr Dalli’s speech today was another clear case of doublespeak, with the government saying one thing and doing another.