The Libyan Embassy in Malta is in the dark about the nature of negotiations with Malta on migration, despite having denied the existence of a secret agreement on rescues at sea.
The embassy of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord on Monday issued a statement denying the existence of a secret deal with Malta to intercept boats carrying migrants and return them to Libya.
But when asked specific questions about the deal, which was exclusively revealed by The Sunday Times of Malta, the embassy said it had no information.
The Libyan Embassy would not comment on the nature of meetings between Libyan government and government official Neville Gafá, who acted as an intermediary in several meetings concerning the deal.
Times of Malta has confirmed the meetings through multiple sources and the Maltese government has not denied them.
Nor could the embassy comment on an incident in which the Libyan coastguard allegedly entered Malta’s search and rescue zone to pick up a boat packed with migrants and return them to Libya.
This incident has been flagged by Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s special envoy for the Central Mediterranean, who believes the case may have constituted a violation of maritime law.
The agreement struck is for the Armed Forces of Malta to coordinate with the Libyan coast guard to intercept migrants headed towards Malta and return them to the war-torn North African country before they can ever reach European shores.