NGOs tell Commission: Don’t support Malta plan to send back refugees
As EU leaders meet for Malta summit, NGOs call on European Commission not to support Malta proposal to suspend non-refoulement principle
Malta’s human rights NGOs have called on the European Commission to refrain from taking action on the Maltese presidency’s plans for a €200 million migration plan that has proposed the suspension of the key humanitarian principle of non-refoulement. “Anything short of an absolute and clear non-engagement will inevitably result in complicity in flouting the Union’s values and making these Europe’s darkest day,” the NGOs said in a stark warning over the Maltese plan.
The Maltese government has suggested a way of bypassing non-refoulement in times of “international crisis” in a bid to stem the migration flow from Libya.
The NGOs said this was a fundamental principle that, for centuries, had protected the lives of millions of refugees.
“Setting it aside would effectively sign the death sentence for all those people who continue to run away from their homes in search of safety. Enshrined in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and a host of other human rights instruments, the rule strictly prohibits States from returning refugees to places where their lives are threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion and membership of a particular social group,” the NGOS said.
The principle also protects all persons from being sent to countries where they would face serious human rights violations such as the death penalty, torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.
“At its heart, the principle embodies humanity’s spirit of solidarity with one another. It is therefore with extreme repulsion that the undersigned Maltese non-governmental organisations read of Malta’s appeal to brush this value aside. As with all state policies, migration and asylum management can never be based on an approach that tramples on the dignity and rights of persons.”
The statement was signed by aditus foundation, African Media Association, Arab-Maltese Community, The Critical Institute, Integra Foundation, International Association for Refugees, JRS Malta, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Migrants’ Network for Equality, Moviment Graffitti, Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, The People for Change Foundation, Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta, SOS Malta, Spark 15, and the Sudanese Community in Malta.