Many Maltese let their prejudices get the better of them and justified the force used refusing to even acknowledge the shocking pictures taken by our photographer. If a Maltese man is holding down a black guy with a truncheon then he must be right. Within days we witnessed a series of arson attacks and threats against NGOs and journalists who denounced the heavyhandedness. It was not over. The subsequent inquiry into the Safi incidents was a major whitewash as it concluded that the force used to control the migrants during their protest was justified in the circumstances even if it took note of the fact the force used by several soldiers was exaggerated.
When I was grilled by the judge tasked with carrying out the inquiry I recall feeling as though I was in the dock. The judge appeared to be more concerned with knowing the identity of who tipped me off about the protest rather than what I had witnessed. But then again should we be surprised? For the last 14 years we have been told by governments that the detention system is a must even if it criminalises asylum seekers in the eyes of many.
In the last 10 years we have seen deaths suicides and more riots inside detention. We still see NGOs and journalists who analyse migration issues being threatened for doing their job.
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Because many of us still cannot differentiate between the terrorists that caused bloodshed in the streets of Paris last week and the asylum seekers fleeing the terror in their country. Ten years on none of us should turn a blind eye to the horrible actions portrayed in the picture above. Comodini Cachia calls for better coordination of actions by Member States against human smuggling During a debate on the recent human smuggling incidents in the Mediterranean held during a Plenary Session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg MEP for Malta Therese Comodini Cachia said: Human smuggling attacks the dignity of those who fall victim to it and threatens Member States.
We have a duty to stand up against this illicit and immoral business. Comodini Cachia said that the EU had so far steered a strategy for the Mediterranean which involved border management. However this strategy did not reduce the number of smuggling incidents enough; hence proving to be insufficient. Comodini Cachia said that sporadic action is ineffective and called for a better coordination amongst Member States.
This will require a mechanism that brings together representatives from the policy law enforcement intelligence and diplomatic areas ensuring a common approach to address the problem.
In his conclusive statement Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos supported these views and said: If decisive and coordinated EU action is not taken the flow [of migrants] will continue. The European Commission is determined to take action. Avrampoulos joined Comodini Cachia in calling for more coordination and solidarity from EU member states. He also stressed the need for more cooperation with Turkey and African countries and urged Member States to step up their efforts to enforce EU asylum rules and resettle refugees. During this debate MEPs also discussed the new routes used by smugglers the role of the EU border agency Frontex legal channels of migration to the EU and a comprehensive approach to migration.
Spanish police say they have arrested two Cameroonian migrants on suspicion of killing up to 10 other migrants by pushing them from a boat into stormy waters in a fight over a prayer session. The two were arrested after several of the 29 survivors of the African migrant boat crossing to Spain from Morocco told how a fight broke out when a Nigerian religious minister began praying that the boat would not sink police said.
The Cameroonians blamed the worsening weather on the pastor police said. The pastor and other Nigerians praying were among those allegedly pushed over board. Police say there were some 50 people on the boat but that around 10 other migrants also died when they fell into the sea on December 3. President MarieLouise Coleiro Preca focused on poverty migration and international terrorism when she greeted ambassadors accredited to Malta for the exchange of New Year Greetings today.
She said the economic situation continued to show signs of cautious recovery last year. A solution must be sought urgently to this social scourge that is affecting the wellbeing of one in four Europeans and 1. Turning to terrorism she regretted that during bloodshed continued to spill in Libya Syria and Iraq with conflicts in the latter two giving rise to the emergence of the Islamic State.
One consequence had been the increase in the number of migrants. In her address the President condemned violence "from Gaza to Syria; from Iran to Afghanistan; from Pakistan to Libya; from Ukraine to Nigeria and now in Paris horrific scenes pools of blood human slaughter that terrify and sadden all those who believe in human dignity.
She looked forward tot he Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Malta this year hoping this event will lead to a roadmap that will kick start the shaping up of the Commonwealth of tomorrow hat have an effective voice and be a useful catalyst to influence change. Referring to the terrorism in Paris President Coleiro Preca said this was an attack on freedom and on democracy. Records revealed by Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela show that a whopping asylum seekers managed to escape from the Safi and Lyster Barracks detention centres between and Abela was responding to a series of parliamentary questions by Labour backbencher Anthony Agius Decelis pertaining to detention centres between and the final full year under a Nationalist administration.
The tabled papers show that irregular immigrant escapes were recorded in that same time period the largest getaway being on 4 May when 43 immigrants all made a dash for freedom. Interestingly a significant plummet in immigrant escapees was recorded in the numbers dropping to 12 when compared to the escapees in The escape numbers remained relatively low in and Abela said that no records could be found regarding how many escapees were eventually caught and returned to their detention centres. However the records definitely indicate that the vast majority of irregular immigrants who attempted to flee their detention centres succeeded in doing so.
Indeed only 46 asylumseekers were foiled in their freedom attempts between and with none at all recorded in and In response to another parliamentary question Abela revealed records showing that disciplinary steps were taken against 44 detention service officers between and most commonly for absenteeism leaving the workplace and insubordination.
However no information on disciplinary steps taken against officers involved in violence against asylum seekers was tabled. This the home affairs minister told parliament was because no records were ever kept over cases of alleged violence against irregular migrants by detention services officers. Moreover no records were ever kept of any disciplinary action that may have been taken against such officers in the past.
This means that no recorded information of allegations made against detention service officers investigations that may have been carried out and the outcome of said investigations. The report carried out by retired judge Geoffrey Valenzia painted a grim picture of the conditions in detention centres and shed a particularly bad light on the track record of detention service officers. The inquiry revealed that Kamara had successfully escaped his detention centre only to be recaptured by detention service officers who proceeded to handcuff him dump him inside a steel cage at the back of a detention centre van and brutally beat him to death.
According to forensic expert Mario Scerri Kamara died from a heart attack as a result of blunt trauma. According to the former head of the detention services the soldiers that were deployed at the detention centres were the worst of the worst…soldiers refused by the army. Lieutenant Colonel Brian Gatt shockingly admitted that such soldiers included an officer who had usury problems and another who had been charged with shooting at a yacht during training.
I had a sergeant in Hal Far who used to prey on migrant women entering their rooms during the night and taking a woman back to his office with him Gatt told Valenzia.
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Even condoms were found in the room. The inquiry found that there was a kind of inappropriate relationship going on between some members of staff and migrant women being detained. It could have been consensual but given the context you question this consent…how real it is… because they are detained and there is a soldierdetainee relationship which renders the relationship inappropriate.
Even this particular sergeant was never suspended but simply transferred to another section. It also revealed that the detention services were severely understaffed especially with regard to female officers stationed with migrant women. At the time there was only one female detention service officer. This meant that male officers would walk straight into female migrants taking a shower for the head count and accompany pregnant migrants to hospital at times and sometimes even stay with them while they were being examined by the doctor.
It is one of the most constructive and thorough reports to date joining so many other reports in unequivocally condemning a policy that seeks to deprive migrants of their very humanity by locking them away out of sight out of scrutiny and out of human rights protection the eight NGOs said in a joint statement.
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Yet we are not shocked at any of the statements or findings in the Valenzia report. We are not shocked to read of sexual relations between a small number of Detention Services personnel and detained women. We are not shocked because we have been witnessing such incidents for several years. The MOAS migrant rescue mission is still millions of euros short of being able to set sail again but major benefactors could help get the show on the road by May.
Founder Chris Catrambone told Times of Malta that a number of possibilities were being considered.
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In the mission was completely funded by Mr Catrambone and his wife Regina. We have shown that operations like this can be done and can be done with a certain level of success. Although wary of commenting further as he did not want to scare potential donors away Mr Catrambone said one possibility being explored would be partnering up with other major humanitarian entities. In fact Mr Catrambone said he had aspirations for the mission to branch out and see more newer boats carrying out wider operations.
We need to give people dignity when they reach our backyard. The Migrant Offshore Aid Station operated for the first time last summer using a 40metre ship equipped with two camcopters and a professional crew including rescuers seafarers paramedics and humanitarians.
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Our focus is on saving lives and on giving survivors the dignity they deserve. We provide even the most basic forms of aid like blankets and baby formulas to the survivors of these terrible wrecks Christopher Catrambone said. One boy an elevenyearold was sent to face the journey alone because his parents could only pay a oneperson passage. Among several difficult rescue operations Catrambone said on one occasion there had been people — crew excluded — on board the Phoenix. She called for a successful holistic approach to migration where any approach must start with saving lives. Inaction risks further tragedies in our seas.
EU States cannot shirk their responsibility just because they are not geographically in the Mediterranean she said. Zammit Dimech recently appointed spokesperson on migration reiterated the call for a European solution: Too many people have lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean. This is a European issue that requires a European solution. As a privatelyrun mission MOAS needs to raise funds to continue its operation. Although it is currently not in operation the team is working hard to raise funds.
Our focus is on raising funds and finding the necessary partners to be able to ensure sustainable operation this year. Men had residence documents issued by Italian authorities and availed themselves of their right to free movement A police raid early this morning at 6: 30am led to the arrest of eight irregular migrants who were living out in the open in Hal Far using the huge asbestos pipes that have been for years out in the nearby fields as their shelter. Police said that the men had official documents issued by the Italian authorities and had travelled to Malta via catamaran from Sicily.
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Because they were living close to the Hal Far open centre it is understood that the migrants living at the centre may have also provided them with food. Five men were of Ghanian nationality and two others were Togo nationals. Another man was a Spanish national.
Their documents were verified by the police. They are currently in police custody.
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