An Amnesty International report has blamed Malta for using „ever more despicable and illegal tactics“ to turn away migrants and refugees from North Africa.
In its report released on Tuesday, Amnesty said Malta has arranged „unlawful pushbacks to Libya“, diverted migrants boats to Italy and illegally detained „hundreds of people on ill-equipped“ offshore quarantine ferries.
The rights group also criticised Maltese authorities for signing a new agreement with Libya to stop migrants and refugees leaving the conflict-ridden country.
Malta: Illegal tactics mar another year of suffering in central Mediterranean
The Maltese government has resorted to dangerous and illegal measures for dealing with the arrivals of refugees and migrants at sea, which are exposing countless people to appalling suffering and risking their lives, Amnesty International revealed today in a report “Waves of impunity: Malta’s human rights violations Europe’s responsibilities in the Central Mediterranean”. As Amnesty is launching this new report, despair is growing aboard the Maersk Etienne, which has been denied a port to disembark for over a month, after rescuing 27 people on a request from Maltese authorities.
The Maltese government’s change in approach to arrivals in the central Mediterranean in 2020 has seen them take unlawful, and sometimes unprecedented, measures to avoid assisting refugees and migrants. This escalation of tactics included arranging unlawful pushbacks to Libya, diverting boats towards Italy rather than rescuing people in distress, illegally detaining hundreds of people on ill-equipped ferries off Malta’s waters, and signing a new agreement with Libya to prevent people from reaching Malta.
“Malta is stooping to ever more despicable and illegal tactics to shirk their responsibilities to people in need. Shamefully, the EU and Italy have normalized cooperation with Libya on border control, but sending people back to danger in Libya is anything but normal,” said Elisa De Pieri, Regional Researcher at Amnesty International.