Government denies violating rights of migrants detained on tourist boats in 2020

Kevin Schembri Orland

Thursday November 18, 2021, 12:15 PM
Last updated: about 7 hours ago

The Prime Minister, Home Secretary and State Defender have denied claims that migrants’ rights were violated when they were held up on tourist boats at sea for weeks in 2020.

Thirty-two irregular migrants who were detained aboard Captain Morgan and Supreme Cruises tourist boats in 2020 filed a petition in the First Chamber of the Civil Court of its constitutional jurisdiction, arguing that their human rights had been violated during their detention at sea.

The applicants left Libya on different days between April, May and June 2020, boarding small boats with other people – men, women and children of different nationalities, in an attempt to reach Europe, the request says. . After a few days at sea, “they could not continue their journey due to damage to their boats, or due to adverse or dangerous weather conditions, and had to ask for help to be rescued”, a- he continued.

They were rescued and transferred to ships known for their tourist activities in Malta.

Among other things, they claim that the applicants were never officially informed of the reasons for which they were placed on the boats or of the Maltese Government’s plans regarding their situation. “At no time were they informed of their right to seek asylum in Malta, they were not issued a detention order and no one spoke to them about the right to redress their detention. “

The lawyers representing the 32 migrants – Neil Falzon, Cedric Mifsud, Katrine Camilleri and Carla Camilleri argue, among other things, that their clients’ right to liberty and security, in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights, and the same right under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, have been violated. They also allege that through the decisions and actions taken by the people against whom the case has been brought, their clients have been exposed to inhuman and degrading treatment.

The migrants were allowed to disembark in Malta in early June 2020 after people on board one of the boats threatened the crew.

In their response to the court’s request, state attorney Chris Soler and attorney Julian Vella deny rights were violated.

They denied that the migrants were subject to any form of arrest within the meaning of the Convention on Human Rights or the Charter of Fundamental Rights while in international waters and that the articles are inapplicable.

Even if the court concludes that the articles in question are applicable, they said, there was no violation because the temporary accommodation was provided in a legitimate manner and with full respect for fundamental rights and dignity. of the applicants.

They recalled that the case dates back to early 2020 when Malta’s ports were closed and there was a public health emergency.

They said that the applicants’ accommodation outside Maltese territory was aimed at helping to prevent the spread of Covid-19. They also denied that the applicants were not informed of their rights or able to challenge the legitimacy of the temporary accommodation. They said the allegation of inhuman and degrading treatment was unfounded.

The first hearing of the case was held today, where state attorney raised a technical point regarding the type of claim filed. Judge Toni Abela has said he will address this point when the case is decided.

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