Revue de la presse maltaise septembre-octobre 2005

anglais

Le gouvernement maltais déclare être confronté à une « crise » sociale et politique déclenchée par l’arrivée de nombreux migrants sur l’île. Il met en cause l’Union Européenne et dénonce l’insuffisance de son aide humaine et financière, alors que Malte doit faire face à une pénurie de moyen pour gérer cet afflux de migrants. Cet appel à l’aide s’accompagne d’une politique de rapprochement avec les pays tiers pour tenter de mettre en place des accords bilatéraux de rapatriement.

Au niveau de la politique intérieure le climat s’échauffe, le sentiment de rejet des migrants dans la société maltaise est sensible : déclarations racistes de dirigeants politique, et manifestation anti-migrants largement suivie.

LA SITUATION DES MIGRANTS A MALTE

Catering for 300 immigrants at closed centres to be farmed out

by Gerald Fenech

2/09/05

[...]Parliamentary Secretary Tony Abela told this paper that although the kitchens run by the police and the army were currently running full blast, these were only designed to provide an emergency service and were thus unable to cope with the demand being created by the immigrants.

This meant that the government has no option but to ask for help from the private sector to ease the pressure on the service it is currently providing.

Asked about the exact number of immigrants that are currently being accommodated in Malta, Dr Abela said that there are 1,150 immigrants in closed centres administered by the army, a further 75 being held at the police complex at Ta’ Kandja and another 120 at the Police depot in Floriana.

{{}}“I can confirm that our resources are stretched to the limit and if another batch of 200 immigrants comes to our shores then we will have really received the knockout blow,” he said.With all barracks and premises full to capacity, the army is fast at work building and/or adapting additional units and barracks to house further influxes of immigrants.

“Currently, the army is working on three projects. There will be a second warehouse complex in Hal Far similar to the one already packed to capacity, another barracks unit is being converted and we are also erecting a tent to be used for emergencies. All these facilities will have resources that will enable immigrants to live in humane and dignified conditions,” Dr Abela explained.

At present, the situation is so critical that immigrants are being housed in temporary tents as there is absolutely no spare capacity, Dr Abela added.

With regard to the issue of additional assistance from foreign countries on irregular immigration, there does appear to be some light at the end of the tunnel. [...]

In The Times of Malta

1,700 illegal migrants in detention centres

Sun 2nd Oct 2005

MALTA’S immigration crisis reached record proportions last Sunday when a boatload of 181 illegal immigrants brought the number of people detained at Safi to over 1,400.

The new arrivals, along with the 26 who landed yesterday week, had to be put up in hurriedly erected tents as there was a lack of space inside the detention centre.

The first boat, a 60-foot fishing vessel, had been spotted by a Maltese fishing party some 20 miles off Filfla. It had developed serious mechanical problems.

A criminal investigation into human trafficking will be carried out in connection with last Sunday’s influx, especially since the boat carrying the 181 immigrants appeared to have had a master mariner, Home Affairs Tonio Borg said on Monday.

He added that clearly there was a criminal organisation behind the transport of migrants - probably based in the countries of their origin. This was confirmed by the way the migrants turned up off Malta, he said. While last Sunday’s arrival was an exception, most migrants arrived in groups of between 26-29 on boats with the same type of engine.

An illegal immigrant was in a critical condition after he almost drowned while trying to land in Marsaxlokk along with 29 others early on Tuesday morning. He was rescued by a soldier who jumped into the water after a boat with 30 exhausted immigrants on board capsized.

About another 150 illegal immigrants, probably from Africa, landed in Cirkewwa on Friday aboard a 10-metre fishing boat. A 17-year-old immigrant told The Times they left from Libya, had been at sea for seven days and were heading for Italy.

The number of migrants in detention centres is now close to 1,700. Over 300 will be housed in tents because the Safi facilities are full to capacity.

SUR LES PRATIQUES DE RAPATRIEMENT :

In The Malta Independent

More than 1,000 irregular immigrants repatriated in the last 18 months{{}}

03/09/05

The problem of irregular immigrants is continually increasing, with over 1,000 arriving in Malta in the past year, the Department of Information said yesterday. Despite the rigid detention policy applied here, Malta has one of the highest rates of acceptance in Europe, with 60 per cent of those applying for refugee status being given some form of protection.

Those who do not qualify for refugee status after their case has been heard by the Commissioner for Refugees and the Board of Appeals are eventually sent back to their country of origin. This is a process that takes some time, as the bulk of the immigrants arrive without any identification papers.

Despite these obstacles, the Police Immigration Department has repatriated around 1,000 irregular immigrants in the past 18 months. Of those who arrived in Malta on boats, 239 were repatriated to their country of origin, and the government will continue repatriating those who do not require humanitarian protection.

Malta is also proposing a cooperation plan between all EU countries so that there will be joint repatriation flights shared by the EU-25. This process will make it easier for Malta to send people back to countries where the national airline has no coverage, thus reducing costs.

RELATIONS AVEC L’UNION EUROPEENNE

ACTUALITÉS

In The Times of Malta

EU to create emergency fund

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ivan Camilleri in Brussels

European Commission Vice President Franco Frattini has taken up the Maltese government’s proposal to create an emergency fund to help countries like Malta deal better with the influx of illegal immigrants.

Mr Frattini has given instructions for the setting up of the fund, which reach €20 million and hopefully become available by the beginning of next summer, his spokesman told The Times yesterday.

The news will come not a moment too soon for Malta, as it struggles to cope with the illegal immigrants swelling its detention centres after a wave of landings over the summer.

Malta has been pressing for such a fund at various EU fora over the past few months. Ministers Michael Frendo and Tonio Borg as well as various MEPs have repeatedly asked the EU to take up the proposal.

Currently, there is no official funding to combat illegal immigration crises. The new fund will form part of the existing European Refugee Fund programme.

The spokesman, Friso Roscam Abbing, said : "Mr Frattini will be submitting the first details of his proposal in December during the Justice and Home Affairs Council to be held in Brussels.

"We are considering a special emergency fund able to provide assistance, including financial help, to member states that find themselves facing emergencies, such as Malta, Italy, Greece and Spain.

"We need to make sure that this fund is available before the start of next summer when the ’season’ of illegal immigration is at its peak. We appreciate that this is not a problem to be dealt with by the individual member states but by the EU as a whole and that is why we are taking this important step."

He said that Mr Frattini will shortly be visiting countries affected by illegal immigration such as Spain and Italy to discuss the proposal. And although the Commission vice president had visited Malta last July and knows its immigration problem very well, he would be prepared to visit again soon.

"If the Maltese government feels it would be better for Mr Frattini to visit again to better discuss this proposal, we would be available to come again," the spokesman said.

Addressing the European and Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday evening, Foreign Minister Michael Frendo said that Ireland, like the Netherlands, was considering taking a number of refugees or migrants granted humanitarian protection by Malta.

Technical assistance was also being offered by Germany, Italy and the UK while the Czech Republic had said it was willing to assist Malta but wanted to coordinate with other countries.

Dr Frendo said that he brought up the issue of illegal migration during an informal meeting with his Nigerian counterpart last Sunday on the fringes of a Commonwealth meeting.

The Nigerian minister was very receptive to Malta’s request for a repatriation agreement with Nigeria and other Commonwealth countries.

In fact, proposed repatriation agreements were being sent to other Commonwealth countries that may have nationals residing illegally in Malta.

On talks with Libya, Dr Frendo said Malta was awaiting a reply on when a technical committee formed between the two countries could meet.

Labour MP George Vella asked why Malta did not have a repatriation agreement with Libya, such as the one Italy had.

Dr Frendo said that there was no written repatriation agreement between Italy and Libya, but there was a verbal arrangement on repatriation. Malta would continue seeking a repatriation agreement with Libya.

Malta was also trying to strengthen its diplomatic links with countries from which the immigrants hailed.

L’UE va créer un fonds d’urgence de 20 millions d’euros
Bruxelles
, (Agence Europe)

21/10/2005

La Commission européenne, reprenant la proposition du gouvernement maltais, a proposé la création d’un fonds d’urgence de 20 millions d’euros pour venir en aide aux pays qui font face à l’afflux croissant d’immigrants illégaux sur leur sol. « La Commission a la réelle volonté d’agir de fa« on solidaire face aux probl »mes croissants d’immigration illégale, il ne nous reste plus qu’à vérifier si la création de ce fonds est juridiquement et financi »rement possible », a commenté le Commissaire Franco Frattini. Cette proposition fait suite à l’annonce faite le 17 octobre par le Commissaire Frattini de se rendre bientôt dans les capitales de l’Union européenne pour évoquer cette question.

La proposition de créer un fonds d’urgence devrait être présentée au Conseil Justice et affaires intérieures du 2 décembre. Si le calendrier est respecté, le fonds d’urgence sera débloqué pour le début de l’été prochain, juste avant que les pics d’immigration ne se reproduisent. Pour l’instant, aucune précision n’est apportée sur les sommes qui seront allouées à chaque Etat membre. Ce qui est en revanche sûr, c’est que le fonds d’urgence sera enti »rement alimenté par le Fonds européen pour les réfugiés (FER), qui est actuellement doté de 50 millions d’euros par an. Cette assistance financi »re d’urgence découle de la politique européenne dans le domaine de l’asile, de l’immigration et des frontiers prévue par le programme de La Haye de 2004. A partir de 2007, les Etats qui doivent faire face à l’immigration illégale devraient recevoir des aides plus importantes de l’UE puisque, pour la période 2007-2013, le budget du FER atteindra plus d’un milliard d’euros.

ALLIANCE DE MALTE AVEC L’ITALIE POUR APPUYER SON APPEL A L’AIDE A L’UNION EUROPEENNE

In The Malta Independent

Illegal immigration affects every country - Italian Foreign Minister{{}}

by Gerald Fenech

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The European Union must realise that irregular immigration is a problem for every country and not for Italy and Malta alone, Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Gianfranco Fini said yesterday.

Minister Fini, who was on an official visit to Malta, yesterday held talks with President Edward Fenech Adami, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Deputy Prime Minister Tonio Borg.

He also opened the international Dante Alighieri conference, which is being held in Malta.

At a joint press conference in the afternoon, Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Frendo said he was honoured to host Minister Fini in Malta. He said they both had an excellent working relationship, going back to the European Convention on the Future of Europe.

Minister Frendo said bilateral talks had focused on various issues, particularly the problem of irregular immigration. He said Malta wanted to show its appreciation for the financial assistance that Italy had given the country through the financial protocols. This assistance, he said, had culminated in an extensive road refurbishing programme - and the results were there for all to see.

The foreign minister said they had discussed the Continental Shelf and talked about further bilateral relations within a wider EU context.

He said Malta had embarked on what can be termed as a diplomatic offensive on the issue of illegal immigration and a high-level meeting will be held in October between Italian and Maltese officials to iron out some difficulties in the cooperation process.

Malta remains committed, he added, to protect those people who flee their country for humanitarian reasons but stressed that Malta could not be held to ransom by international criminal organisations who used immigrants for financial gain.

The Italian minister said he was very pleased to be in Malta and to be able to discuss important bilateral issues such as illegal immigration. He said it was important for the European Union to realise that this phenomenon affected every country in the union and the problem was not confined to Italy and Malta.

Mr Fini said the EU had to assist both countries through the principle of subsidiarity because this was the only way they could tackle the problem. He said a Regional Frontier Office should be established in the south of Europe because that in Warsaw clearly could not tackle irregular immigration from North Africa.

Focusing on his talks with Dr Frendo, Minister Fini said they had discussed ways to alleviate the impact of irregular immigration on both countries. He also made reference to next month’s high-level meeting.

“The problem of irregular immigration must be attacked at its roots,” he said, while urging the EU and the international community to give generously and to assist developing countries. In so doing, the constant outflow of those seeking a better life elsewhere would decrease and become manageable.
{{}}

APPEL AUX AUTORITES DE L’UNION EUROPEENNE A SOUTENIR LA POLITIQUE D’IMMIGRATION DE MALTE.

Deux articles sur l’intervention d’homme politique maltais auprès des instances européennes.

In The Times of Malta

Malta harps on need for migration emergency fund

thu 13th Oct 2005{{}}

Ivan Camilleri in Brussels

Home Affairs Minister Tonio Borg yesterday told his EU counterparts in Luxembourg Malta will continue insisting on an EU emergency fund in view of the sudden influx of so many illegal immigrants.

He told the ministers assembled for their monthly EU meeting the fund would help member states faced with illegal immigrants trying to enter EU territory, as is the case with Malta, Italy and Spain.

During his intervention at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, Dr Borg said the recent events on the border between Spain and Morocco underscores the need of such a fund.

Speaking to The Times following the meeting, the minister said that just as the EU has emergency funds in order to help countries hit by natural disasters it should likewise provide for countries experiencing a sudden influx of illegal immigrants.

Although Dr Borg admitted that many member states and the Commission itself are still to be persuaded about the need of such a fund, he said Malta will keep pushing for it. Italy is supporting Malta’s idea and now that Spain is also experiencing similar problems things are being understood better, he added.

At yesterday’s meeting, the newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Gutteres, gave EU ministers a presentation of the prevailing refugee situation in the world and called on EU member states to respect their international obligations towards refugees whilst fighting illegal immigration.

Dr Borg thanked Mr Gutteres for acknowledging the problems Malta is facing and for praising the island’s efforts in giving refugees a humane and dignified treatment.

Mr Borg said Mr Gutteres recently wrote to Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Frendo thanking him for the work Malta is doing with asylum seekers and refugees.

EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini also briefed the home affairs ministers about an EU mission to the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, which have been engulfed by waves of African would-be immigrants trying to enter the EU.

Spain’s Justice Minister Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar told ministers that illegal immigration is not only a problem for Spain, being so close to Morocco, but a problem for the whole of the EU.

He said humanitarian aid was needed "first and foremost", adding that, in the long term, any solution would have to include a "strategy for cooperating on the development of a whole continent in despair, the African continent".

In The Malta Independent

Irregular immigration requires international solution{{}}

Friday, October 14, 2005

Malta Labour Party MEP Louis Grech addressing a European Parliament plenary session recently, said that irregular immigration was an international problem that required an international solution.

Mr Grech said it was plainly evident that the EU was still far from implementing any burden-sharing policy. He urged the EU to take immediate action and provide the necessary funds, know-how and diplomatic support to member states affected by the phenomenon.

“The European Union has not treated the matter with the urgency, concreteness and the effectiveness it deserves,” he said.

The status quo, he added, was untenable to both member states and to the immigrants themselves.

“Members like Malta are being affected to a disproportionate degree, creating an alarming situation, especially when the size and population density of our country are taken into consideration.

”He concluded : “In the long term, a joint endeavour by the EU and the United Nations could go a long way towards resolving this issue in a more holistic way, especially where non-EU countries are concerned. This is the kind of solidarity that member states, their citizens and the immigrants themselves would appreciate and relate to.”

In The Times of Malta

Out of Africa {{}}

Mon 26th Sep 2005

{{}}

Klaus Vella Bardon

The flood of refugees streaming into Malta seems inexorable. In musical jargon, one would term it a crescendo con forza. Not one day passes without some reference in the press to incoming African refugees and how to cope with a problem that seems to be spiralling out of control, especially since Malta became an EU member state.

Unlike the waves of other refugees entering Malta, those coming from Africa are on an unprecedented and ever increasing scale. Some of our politicians just advocate forced repatriation as the ultimate solution and any NGO that proposes hospitality or support is being increasingly pilloried in the press. One thing is certain : at this rate of influx, Malta has neither the economic resources nor the physical space to be able to absorb these refugees.

We have to analyse the situation and study the roots of this urgent problem. It is unjust to consider these refugees as bums and parasites who just come to the West to live a life of glorified beggary soaking up our social benefits. Like most of us, they want to have a fruitful life of gainful work and have the ability to raise a family. They escape their countries under the most harrowing circumstances. I find it ridiculous, almost reprehensible, that we quibble about whether these people are economic or political refugees with the former being considered illegal immigrants.

Our political leaders should inform the public about the tragic circumstances that are at the root of the problem. So many Africans are desperate as never before. In Africa, untold millions have been forced off their land, ruined economically, massacred, decimated by hunger as a result of conflicts, internal and otherwise, that go on and on for five, 10, 20 years and longer. Genocide, through starvation, and mass scale murder goes largely unrecorded and relief, when offered, is pitiably inadequate and late. Premature and violent death in Africa does not have much news value on most international media networks.

Poverty, least of all in Africa, is not inevitable. Yet, despite its great natural wealth, Africa has been crippled by political corruption that beggars belief. Reasons for this endemic corruption are as complex as Africa itself and Africans are primarily responsible to pull themselves out of the rut. Yet the Western world is anything but blameless.

The Western media knows that billions of pounds are siphoned off by African political leaders from their country’s coffers. Yet, for Western governments and their corporate partners, it is always business as usual as they scramble to grab raw materials at cut rate prices and in turn sell armaments that prop up these tyrannical, ruthless regimes.

That is why the attitude of Tony McNulthy, the UK Immigration Minister, who visited Malta recently, was particularly offensive. One expects him to take a closer look at the legacy of the late Robin Cook, who tried to instil an ethical dimension into his country’s foreign policy.

He realised that for too long Western governments, including his own, had turned a blind eye to horrendous crimes and outrageous corruption in Third World countries. So long as the obnoxious, ruling rogues and kleptocrats seemed to serve Western interests, all was overlooked. Again and again, history has shown that these "pragmatic policies" are not just morally bankrupt, they are also politically shortsighted.

Britain has a crucial role to play, especially as it is now presiding over the EU and the forthcoming Commonwealth jamboree. Maybe more than any other nation, it must recognise its accountability towards Africa as many of the failings in Africa are a direct consequence of colonialism. Britain is also a prominent partner of the G8, the club of the world’s richest and most powerful countries that is responsible for the structured subsidies and protectionist barriers imposed on African and other poor countries.

It is particularly galling for European taxpayers to lavish $51 billion on farm subsidies which largely favour huge agribusinesses and wealthy landowners like the British royal family (who benefit to the tune of about half a million pounds a year). The surplus of heavily subsidised farm produce from the EU is, in turn, dumped on the world markets, wiping out the farming communities in Africa and the rest of the Third World. In countries where farming makes up the bulk of economic activity, such dishonest business practice is doubly destructive.

When deploying agricultural subsidies, the EU should follow the advice of the French farmer-activist, José Bové, and promote sustainable farming : i.e. small-scale, organic, labour-intensive (thus reviving rural economies) farming that upholds the vital principles of subsidiarity.

Such an approach will not only be beneficial to Europe but will curtail the crippling effect of current practice and its disastrous consequences on African economies... while a small defenceless island like Malta that is on the southernmost perimeter of Europe faces the resulting exodus of impoverished and destitute Africans.

Meanwhile, as part of the EU, Malta’s territory is part of Europe and refugees landing in Malta are Europe’s direct problem too. Refugees are entitled to move elsewhere in mainland Europe and should be absorbed according to population density and economic viability of all European countries.

It is patently unfair that Malta is left to its own devises to bear the brunt of this predicament. Asking for money and building concentration camps in Malta, no matter how comfortable, are a mockery of human solidarity and no solution at all. The recent news that Holland is prepared to accept 30 refugees while the EU expects Malta to absorb about 2,000 is too ridiculous for words.

Global problems need global solutions and Malta rightly expects and pretends that Europe faces up to its grave responsibilities. At least, the recent G8 summit in Gleneagles admits the reality that the war on poverty is a war that needs to be fought and won. NGOs and other activists of Make Poverty History should insist that the millennium goals are honoured, and that fair trade and the empowerment of the poor and disadvantaged are upheld. These commitments are crucial to authentic development.

Above all, the EU and the Commonwealth should energetically isolate the more malevolent leaders of Africa, such as Robert Mugabe. Recent history shows that this method would be very effective. In the case of South Africa, non-violent methods such as boycotts and economic embargoes toppled the unjust system of apartheid. No doubt countries with no ethical values, such as China, would exploit the created vacuum, but the EU is far from being powerless. The lucrative EU market is much coveted and it can be denied to any country that breaks EU guidelines and regulations by dealing with such corrupt African regimes.

Only respect for human rights and a war on poverty will solve the problem of thousands of people frantically seeking refuge away from home. Meanwhile, the desperate cannot wait and Europe and the Commonwealth have to get their act together. Due to its proximity to Africa, Malta has a key role to play in helping to channel these unfortunate people who desire to have a productive role in life, to settle harmoniously in Europe and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Europe has to live up to its ideals, stop playing the ostrich and be a forceful agent of the profound changes demanded by the current situations of abysmal poverty and crass injustice. Only then can we help Africa build a new social order based on human rights, justice and freedom.

An Africa at peace with itself will not only be beneficial for Africa but for the rest of the world

JUSTIFICATION DE LA POLITIQUE DU GOUVERNEMENT VIS A VIS DES MIGRANTS

Voir le Refugee Act (lien)

Et proposition d’amendement au Refugee Act (lien)

réaction du Jesuit Refugee Service et de la Refugee’s Commission à cet amendement :

Press Release JRS & Emigrants’ Commission on Amending the Refugees Act (Chapter 420 Laws of Malta)

Submitted by admin on Sat, 2005-10-08 13:12

In a joint statement issued today, the Emigrants Commission and the Jesuit Refugee Service called upon the government to make sure that there are sufficient guarantees in place to ensure that all in need of protection are recognised and granted refuge.

The two NGOs welcomed the authorities’ commitment to find more efficient ways of dealing with the increase in the number of applications for refugee status ; yet they added that any true solution will be one that retains all the present safeguards on basic standards and principles of protection.

Much has been done to strengthen the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, which functions efficiently and professionally in spite of the very real limitations of their resources.

The present high standard will be maintained only if the additional Commissioners, or Assistant Commissioners, nominated are people who have substantial professional expertise in the field and if there is a mechanism in place to ensure consistency and uniformity within the decision-making procedure.

It is absolutely imperative that people arriving in Malta in search of protection are allowed access to procedures for the determination of their applications for refugee status. They must also be granted effective protection from forced return (refoulement) throughout the duration of the proceedings for the examination of their application.

Hence, the proposed amendment to the Refugees Act, which will allow the authorities to return asylum seekers to their country before their appeal has been decided is cause for grave concern as it could mean that people are pushed back into the arms of their persecutors. We believe that the grounds being proposed for this harsh decision, that the Refugee Commissioner determines that an application is ‘manifestly unfounded’, are too weak to warrant the loss of a real right to appeal.

Assurances that anyone granted refugee status at appeal stage will be allowed to return to Malta without the need of a visa ring hollow, as in many cases it will then be too late to provide meaningful protection.

We therefore strongly urge the authorities to remove the section authorising return before the conclusion of the appeal procedures.

We also recommend that, in cases where an asylum seeker whose application has been finally rejected, manages to bring new evidence in support of his claim, he is allowed the possibility of asking for a review of his case in the light of such evidence.

Human life has inestimable value. We believe that to send even one person back to a country where he will face persecution or other serious human rights violations is too high a cost to pay.

Le parti au pouvoir établit une distinction radicale et très claire (partagée par l’opposition) entre les réfugiés « réels » et les migrants impliqués dans des réseaux internationaux de trafic humain. Ces derniers sont identifiés au migrants économiques. Cette distinction justifie la proposition d’amendement à la loi sur les réfugiés : elle permettra d’accélérer le processus de rapatriement pour les faux réfugiés sans mettre en danger les personnes qui ont « réellement » besoin de protection. De plus il est prévu que cette loi alourdisse les peines des personnes convaincues de faire du trafic d’être humain et de renforcer le pouvoir de la police.

In The Times of Malta

Clamp down on unfounded applications for refugee status

Thu 6th Oct 2005

{{}}

Amendments to the Refugees Act aimed at ironing out abuses in applications for refugee status started being debated in Parliament yesterday.

"The government wants to be generous with those people who are deserving of refugee status but it will be tough with those who do not deserve such status" Home Affairs Minister Tonio Borg told the House.

"We need to use our minds as much as our hearts to discuss the issue of illegal migration," he added. Many only appeared to be using their hearts, he said.

Dr Borg said the problem of illegal migration had nothing to do with Malta’s EU membership. The problem started well before Malta joined the bloc. In 2002, before Malta had joined the EU, there had been 1,688 arrivals, while in the first year of Malta’s EU membership the number had decreased. But EU membership was useful for Malta to tackle this problem.

It was a myth that Malta, or indeed any other country, could ever stop people crossing the Mediterranean northwards in search of a better life. Not even Italy, with its huge resources, had been able to do this.

Dr Borg defended the government’s detention policy but pointed out that Malta had the highest rate of granting refugee or humanitarian status to deserving migrants, such as those who had suffered persecution in their countries. People granted refugee status were being immediately released from detention centres. And freedom was also granted to those refugees who had been waiting for an excessively long time (in excess of 18 months) to be granted refugee status.

People were not kept in detention simply because they applied for refugee status, Dr Borg said. The detention policy applied only to those people who landed in Malta illegally.

"We will resist every attempt, whether from the EU, the UN, Amnesty International or anyone else to remove the detention policy" Dr Borg said. For one thing, one had to distinguish between those who came to Malta regularly and those who came here without a permit.

Secondly, Malta was not like other countries which had land frontiers and which let refugees move on to other countries and in some cases even gave them money. Malta was a small, densely populated island which simply could not handle such an influx of people. It could hardly deal with people in detention, let alone if they were allowed their freedom. There would be obvious dangers if they were allowed to roam the streets without shelter or substinence. That the detention policy could also have a deterrent value was also positive.

Dr Borg said he had circulated a draft document on the national immigration policy and it was hoped this would be debated by a specially set up task force, including the government, opposition and NGOs, in the near future. He knew that approval of this national policy would not be easy - for one thing NGOs were against the detention policy - but nonetheless he hoped there would be an all round effort for consensus to be reached.

Many people argued that migrants should immediately be repatriated, but this was far from easy, Dr Borg said. It was not difficult to send back Libyans or Tunisians, once their identity was confirmed, but it was tougher to send people to, say, Somalia, where there was practically no government. And the migrants often hid their identity.

Nonetheless, repatriation could not be only to democratic countries. One could not stop repatriation because a migrant would have violated the law in his country, or that country was not democratic. But protection would continue to be given to migrants who risked suffering unjust persecution or torture if returned to their country.

And, Dr Borg said, the government could not shirk its duty to rescue any migrants who were in distress at sea. After all, it was calculated that at least 600 migrants had perished in the Mediterranean over the past few years.

The minister said it was not true that Malta would next year end up with some 15,000 migrants because of changes to the law of the sea. The AFM, which was Malta’s coastguard, only rescued or escorted into Malta those migrants who indicated they wished to come here or were in distress. There was no interference in the case of those sailing near Malta but were going elsewhere and did not need assistance.

Referring to relations between Libya and Malta with regard to illegal migration, Dr Borg said there were no problems on the repatriation of Libyan migrants.

The issue was over non-Libyan migrants who left from Libya. It resulted that most migrants left from two points on the Libyan coast, and, clearly, Libya should shoulder at least part of this responsibility. Contacts were continuing on a readmission agreement and he was confident that an agreement could eventually be reached.

Only two days ago, in Morocco, he had a meeting with a former Libyan prime minister, now a consultant to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi when he again discussed the issue and also pointed out that some people were using this issue to disrupt the friendly relations between the two countries.

Dr Borg pointed out, however, that repatriation was taking place. Were that not the case, Malta would have some 5,000 migrants at present, not the current 1,500.

Turning to the provisions of the Bill, he said the main amendment provided that when an application for refugee or humanitarian status was found to be manifestly unfounded, the migrant concerned could be repatriated immediately. Appeal proceedings could not stop such repatriation.

The minister said examples of unfounded applications in the past included those where the applicants were found to have worked in Libya or other countries (which were not their own) for many years. There were also many cases where the migrant sought refugee status only when he was caught or was about to be sent back.

The Bill also provided that migrants who refused to cooperate with the authorities for purposes of repatriation after their refugee application was refused could be kept in detention even if they would have been in detention for more than 18 months.

The Bill also provided that more than one Refugee Commissioner could be appointed to consider the applications for refugee and humanitarian status.

Dr Borg said Malta could not continue building one detention centre after another. Unfortunately some migrants were now being housed under tents, but it was hoped that through this Bill, there would be fewer migrants in Malta.

The migrants currently in Malta came from 33 countries. Most were from African countries which had no government and with which Malta had no diplomatic relations. A third of the refugees - 500 - came from Sudan.

"If they deserve to, they will stay here but if not they will be sent back to Sudan, whatever the cost" Dr Borg said.

Dr Borg was followed by Gavin Gulia, opposition spokesman on home affairs, whose remarks will be reported tomorrow.

Intervention du ministre des affaires étrangères au parlement :

In The Malta Independent

Parliament : All immigration should be regulated - Foreign Minister{{}}

by Gerald Fenech

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Speaking in parliament yesterday, Foreign Minister Michael Frendo said that all immigration should be regulated and it was necessary to keep cool while discussing this phenomenon. He said those who had a genuine claim on humanitarian grounds should be protected by the law and given refugee status.

The Foreign Minister said that the amendments to the Refugee Act will eventually tighten procedures and will eliminate those refugee cases that are not genuine. He said that, like the European Union, the Maltese nation has always been generous in its aid to developing countries but the EU must provide more assistance to our country regarding the problem of irregular immigration.

Dr Frendo said that the new bill will ensure that people who are here illegally will be speedily deported according to international treaties. He said that Malta will continue to follow this tough policy and called on the EU to recognise that the immigration phenomenon is a problem for all the EU-25.

[...]

In the winding up speech, Parliamentary Secretary Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici said that the debate on the Refugee Act had been civilised and mature. He said there had been consensus on both sides of the House that the phenomenon of irregular immigration was a national issue.

Dr Mifsud Bonnici said that the amendments to the Refugee Act were simply intended to speed up the repatriation of those who were in Malta illegally. He said that this will not in any way affect those people with a genuine claim on humanitarian grounds who apply for refugee status.

Dr Mifsud Bonnici also reviewed the major amendments to the Refugee Act including the provision for two new Refugee Commissioners. [...]

In The Times of Malta

Frendo tells human traffickers...

"We are not a soft target"

Wed 12th Oct 2005

Foreign Minister Michael Frendo said yesterday that Malta would continue to offer protection to genuine refugees, but it would resolutely not allow itself to be used by human traffickers.

"Malta will not allow itself to be held to ransom by the human traffickers. Malta will insist that while it will protect genuine refugees and those entitled to humanitarian assistance, it will not allow itself to become the dumping ground of international criminal organisations involved in human trafficking."

Speaking in Parliament at the end of the debate on a Bill amending the Refugees Act, Dr Frendo said these amendments were important because Malta would be able to immediately deport all those migrants who submitted manifestly-unfounded applications for refugee status. The Bill also provided for the appointment of more Refugee Commissioners so that the processing of applications for refugee status would be speeded up.

Dr Frendo said the human traffickers had eyes and ears in all places where migrants were landed. When a particular country was seen to be weaker than others, they targeted it.

"We are not a soft target, we know how to defend our rights and we will let no one blackmail us," Dr Frendo said.

He said Malta was raising the pressure in international fora for action on illegal migration. As he had pointed out when he wrote to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, all-round action needed to be taken against illegal migration because this was also harming the case of the genuine refugees who were fleeing political or racial persecution and deserved protection.

Dr Frendo stressed that all those who argued about illegal migration should make the distinction between the genuine refugees and the economic refugees. While all countries had a moral and legal duty to protect the former, the influx of illegal migrants and the consequent problems were created by the latter, who were being used by international criminal organisations for profit. Malta could not allow itself to be used by these organisations and become their dumping ground.

However Malta would remain careful in weeding out the genuine refugees from the others. Thus the refugee application process would remain and it would only be the "manifestly-unfounded" applications which would be immediately rejected and the applicants repatriated as soon as possible.

Dr Frendo said another way to fight illegal immigration was by raising development aid to the countries which the migrants fled in their search for a better life. International development aid was being raised by Malta in the various international fora.

The Maltese were always generous in humanitarian assistance, and it was important to also instil a culture of development aid.

The EU was the biggest donor of development aid in the world, and one could only hope that there would come a time when development in sub-Saharan Africa would be such as not to lead to so many people moving away.

Turning to repatriation, Dr Frendo said that in terms of the Cotonou agreement between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, when a citizen of the signatories was found illegally in one of the EU states, the country of origin would accept him back without the need for any other agreement. Malta was insisting with the EU that this clause should be respected and that development aid to these countries should be conditional on their respecting this agreement.

Concluding, he said Malta would shelter those who were being persecuted, but those who were here without justification had to be repatriated according to the Cotonou agreement.

[...]

He complained that the EU was not being responsive enough to the situation facing Malta. Both sides of the House should cooperate to fight this phenomenon and make sure the issue was better known abroad.

The fight against illegal immigration, however, should respect Malta’s Christian values. He could not agree with the way the Australian authorities had left boat people out at sea. Nor could he agree with anyone who said migrants found near Malta should be allowed to fend for themselves, whatever their situation.

He observed that Egyptian immigrants were recently repatriated because their country of origin was identified. In that light he asked about the means the government had to establish the country of origin of immigrants who did not carry any documentation.

One had to admit that the trafficking of immigrants was being organised. This was evident from the appearance of the immigrants when they arrived in Malta. Clearly, they would not have been on a long voyage.

Mr Debono Grech said it was shameful that immigrants were being exploited and even robbed by Maltese employers. There had even been cases where nuns and priests had been insulted when they faced such employers and demanded an end to such exploitation.

Malta, Mr Debono Grech said, needed to tackle illegal migration, but treat the migrants as people.

Helena Dalli (MLP) regretted that there had been no mention of the hardship being suffered by soldiers and policemen who were in personal, constant contact with the problem of illegal migration.

These personnel were being asked to work on long shifts on tasks which were not within their core duties. It was a situation which was eroding morale and distracting the services from their proper roles.

There were even signs of psychological stress among some members of the AFM and the police deployed to watch over the migrants.

Mrs Dalli insisted that she did not mean to say that the illegal immigrants’ problems and concerns should not be addressed, but who was listening to the problems of the Maltese personnel who were taking their problems home ?

[...]

Mrs Dalli said illegal immigration could not be tackled without considering the criminal aspects of human trafficking. This was now an £8 billion industry that was a serious competitor to drug trafficking. Yet the penalties for human trafficking were still low when compared to those for drug trafficking.

Illegal immigration was not exclusively seaborne. Women from the former Soviet Union were being lured to the EU, and specifically to Malta, on the pretext of employment in the catering or other industries and they were then forced to prostitute themselves. Yet if there were no demands for such services, there would no longer be suppliers.

The same argument extended to those employers who employed migrants illegally and went on to exploit them. Why was law enforcement so weak when, at the same time, single mothers were hunted down and denied social services for working as maids ? It was so easy to be strong with the weak. Anybody with open eyes could see minibus-loads of overworked, underpaid foreign workers while Maltese family men were kept out of jobs.

Mrs Dalli asked why the authorities were so reluctant to get to grips with this part of the problem. Was Malta small enough to be swamped by these problems, but not small enough to know about the illegalities going on ?

Winding up the debate, Parliamentary Secretary Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici said there was basically agreement on how this human tragedy was being treated. There was also agreement that one should, first and foremost, consider one’s duties as a Christian. One had a duty to help the persecuted.

Malta was known for its hospitality, but it could not tolerate abuse of this characteristic. This Bill was therefore aimed at those who abusively sought refugee status when they were manifestly not entitled to such assistance. One had always to distinguish between refugees and economic migrants. In terms of this bill, action could be taken more quickly against those who were not genuine refugees and those who did not cooperate with the authorities - such as when they did not reveal their real names and nationalities.

This bill did not amount to automatic repatriation, because a refugee commissioner still had to consider all applications before declaring any of them as being unfounded, when that was the case.

Dr Mifsud Bonnici said the EU was giving assistance to Malta which it would not have provided had Malta not been a member. EU Commissioner Franco Frattini had also come to Malta to see what the problem was, and it was therefore wrong to say that the EU was ignoring Malta. Malta was, however, insisting that the EU needed to address this problem with more urgency.

[...]

The bill was then given a second reading by agreement.

Discussion autour de la proposition de réduire la zone de recherche et de sauvetage de Malte

In the Malta Today

Cabinet unconvinced of proposal to shrink Malta’s rescue area

9/10/05

Karl Schembri

A proposal made by Home Affairs Minister Tonio Borg to the cabinet to shrink the vast search and rescue area around the Maltese islands by some 70 per cent is expected to be shot down by his colleagues in the coming weeks, MaltaToday can reveal.

Borg’s plan was to reduce drastically the area, spanning over 250,000 square km from the tip of Tunisia to Crete, for which Malta is responsible to search and rescue ships in distress in the light of the burdens of irregular immigration.

His proposal is also intended to mitigate the potential effects of a Europe-wide initiative under discussion and being resisted by Malta, which may force the country responsible for the rescue region to take in all immigrants rescued in the area, instead of the first port of call.

Officially, Borg’s proposal is still under examination but cabinet sources say the majority of ministers are against the idea.
“The matter is being discussed by the Maritime Jurisdiction Commission. The government will decide once the report is finalised,” a spokesman for Borg said.

Ministers speaking to MaltaToday said that around the cabinet table, the balance is tipping against Borg’s proposal.
They predict international pressure on Malta to give up, in equal measure, the lucrative Flight Information Region, from which the government earns around Lm3.5 million yearly for air traffic passing over the same area. In the last three years, the government made an income of Lm10.6 million from the flight information region.

“You can’t have the cake and eat it,” a minister said. “Politically, the move would put us in a bad light with our neighbours, and we may end up losing a lot of money generated through the flight region.”

Borg and the few ministers supporting his idea however argue that the space is proving to be a liability where the sea is concerned, outweighing the benefits of the revenue coming from the skies.
Sources from the Home Affairs Ministry say Borg is also concerned by the Italians’ sophisticated ways of intercepting, by radar, sea craft carrying irregular immigrants passing through Malta’s search and rescue area, although the massive landings in Lampedusa and Sicily show that even for them the situation is out of control.

On the other hand, the passageway used by most of the traffickers of immigrants is in any case close to Maltese shores, in many cases mistaking the island for Sicily.
“This means that if we reduce the search and rescue area we will still be facing the same problems,” another influential minister said. “It is not a solution.”

RELATIONS AVEC LES PAYS TIERS ET NOTAMMENT AVEC LA LYBIE

Appel à la responsabilisation des pays tiers dans le contrôle de leur frontière et affirmation que la résolution de long terme de ce problème migratoire passe par une aide au développement sous condition (contrôle des frontières) par des membres de l’opposition au gouvernement :

In The Malta Independent

Need of a no-nonsense approach to irregular immigration

by LEO BRINCAT

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Apart from encouraging co-development as a means of addressing migratory flows, we must ensure that - particularly at the UN and within the WTO - we emphasise that the inequalities that certain exploitative trade policies breed are often inconsistent with the promotion of development in low-income countries. Such inequalities must be addressed if migration is to be effectively checked. For this reason I personally support the idea being floated of a Marshall Plan for Sub-Saharan Africa.

When EU Commissioner Frattini recently said that of the 650,000 illegal immigrants ordered to leave Europe, two-thirds avoided expulsion and remained in the EU, this went to show that there is a lack of political will and political consensus among European states to address this problem frontally.

Without resorting to xenophobia, we must intensify our efforts against the criminal aspects of illegal human trafficking.

Contrary to humanitarian aid, development aid should be tied to the conditionality of good governance as well as to a commitment to stem illegal migratory outflows.

It is with this in mind that we must distinguish between genuine refugees, who are deserving of humanitarian care, and those involved in international networks of human trafficking.

When I met fellow parliamentarians in Strasbourg I made the point that, as a Council of Europe member state, Malta is facing a situation where the growing influx of illegal immigration is having a devastating impact that is far from static, growing, as it happens to be doing, month by month - if not week by week. I argued that for this reason, apart from assisting less-developed countries, the Council of Europe must also safeguard the national interests of its own member states.

We cannot merely limit ourselves to talking of co-development policies when the presence of irregular immigrants, in terms of proportion to the resident population and the country’s geographical dimensions, are exerting ever-increasing pressures on our island’s social and economic fabric and resources.

For this reason, we need all the support that we can muster in meeting such a daunting challenge to our socio-economic direction and orientation.

The time for mere lip service is long past.

In international fora we should call for a revision of the conflicting policies on poverty reduction, globalisation, security, refugees and migration. At the same time, we should also call on the least developed countries to strengthen their own border controls and check outward-bound illegal or irregular migration.

The prospect of the return, re-admission and re-integration of illegal immigrants to their countries of origin, in full respect of international law, cannot be overlooked.

I do not want to sound alarmist, but the situation has become so badly out of hand in Malta that we can hardly consider ourselves a transit country any more, when many illegal immigrants decide to stay and settle here, even if they might have landed in Malta by default.

For this reason, rather than limiting ourselves solely to co-development to counter migration flows, we need a more balanced and radical approach that also takes into consideration the interests of Council of Europe member states like Malta within the framework of a short-term, medium-term and long-term strategy.

While irregular immigration should be fought at the roots, one also has to take into consideration the security threat that a small minority of such migrants can pose from a terrorist angle to recipient European states, particularly those bordering the Mediterranean - a viewpoint which our neighbouring country, Italy, also shares

[...]Leo Brincat is the main opposition spokesman on Foreign Affairs and IT

Immigration : Non-EU countries should shoulder responsibility

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Nationalist MEP Simon Busuttil has called on non-EU countries, such as Libya, to shoulder their responsibility on the question of immigration.

He was addressing a plenary session of the European Parliament that was debating a new law on the minimum standards for the granting and withdrawing of refugee status.

Dr Busuttil welcomed moves towards a genuinely common European immigration and asylum policy and said that until now, countries such as Malta had been left to fend for themselves and was facing a national crisis with the influx of irregular immigrants.

He said that in order to move towards a common policy, one should not just look into which obligations should be carried by each country but also into how the burden could be collectively shared by all.

Unfortunately, he said, Europe was still far from a situation where the burden of the problem of immigration was shared equally among all and there were countries which carry a burden greater than they could shoulder.

Dr Busuttil appealed for a realistic approach, stating that the burden should not just be shouldered by European countries but also by the countries of origin of immigrants as well as by transit countries, such as Libya.

“How can we ensure that countries of origin, especially safe countries, cooperate with us ? And how can we ensure that transit countries, such as Libya, shoulder their obligations, not least by entering into repatriation agreements ? These are the questions that we should be asking,” said Dr Busuttil.

He added that the EU needed to approach this problem in a holistic manner especially when it came to classifying third countries as “safe” or “super-safe” countries.

Dr Busuttil said that he favoured a common European policy - “however, this must be a policy of solidarity where the burden is shared among all and a policy that is coherent and insistent with third countries so that they too carry their responsibility.

”He concluded by appealing to the Socialist and Green groups in the European Parliament not to make unrealistic demands and not to add more burdens onto member states. “Otherwise,” he said, “we should not be surprised if the Council ignores us.”

REJET DES MIGRANTS DANS LA SOCIETE MALTAISE

INTERVIEW DU LEADER DU NOUVEAU GROUPE DE PRESSION L’ANR

In The Times of Malta

Philip Beattie, lecturer in banking and finance and ANR’s national secretary.

12/10/05

The Times : In a recent column you had spoken of a group of liberals advocating "unrestricted and clandestine immigration". Which group were you referring to exactly ?

Philip Beattie : There is not a single organised group advocating these beliefs. Or rather, as far as I know, there is no such group. However, there are many liberal leftists posted in different media who are the exponents of such beliefs.

The Times : In view of the incidents between ANR followers and members of the Graffiti movement and Fr Mark Montebello during the protest march in Valletta on October 3 some commentators said that, despite your calls for solidarity and anti-racism, violence was the real face of ANR. What are your comments ?

Philip Beattie : We made it clear we did not want racists at the demonstration. If a couple of crackpots and hot heads turned up for the protest, they should not be linked to us. Any violence should be condemned. In any case, however, Fr Montebello should not have provoked the crowd. I do not expect a priest, who should give an example of prudence and temperance, to be provocative in that way. If I were to go to a Labour Party meeting with a Nationalist Party flag, wouldn’t I be provoking ? From the picture I saw on newspapers the day after the protest, there were more than 10 people with Fr Montebello. If they did not have a permit, they were breaking the law.

The Times : ANR spoke of Maltese identity, culture and integrity. Does ANR see Maltese society as homogeneous ? What constitutes Maltese identity ?

Philip Beattie : Traditions and values which have formed Maltese society as it is today constitutes our identity. Our surnames show that the Maltese come from different countries, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, yet there are some factors which unite us. We have no problem with those who were not born here but who genuinely integrated into Maltese society. What we do not want is someone like Adel Smith in Italy who wanted to see crucifixes removed from classrooms. We have no problem with foreigners who have been naturalised, are paying taxes and observing laws. We are against the silent invasion of illegal immigrants from Africa and from Eastern Europe.

The Times : What do you make of the support of right wing groups in Malta ? Don’t you think that immigration is being used as a pretext for hatred and exclusion of minorities in society ?

Philip Beattie : The Nazis used immigration as an excuse to eliminate all minorities. We condemn that wholeheartedly. The right wing is multi-faceted and we, as ANR, do not want to be associated with extremists. Everyone has fundamental rights which are acknowledged internationally and these should be respected. But we have to distinguish between real rights and fictitious rights. We are speaking out of common sense and not out of hatred. We do not want that to happen.

MANIFESTATION DE PROTESTATION CONTRE L’IMMIGRATION ILLEGALE A L’APPEL DE L’ANR :

in The Times of Malta

Tempers flare at Valletta protest

Tue 4th Oct 2005

Ariadne Massa

Emotions of fear and loathing vis-à-vis illegal immigration were unleashed last night as hundreds marched through Valletta’s Republic Street to protest against the "silent invasion".

Such feelings jarred with the message of solidarity and anti-racism stressed by Philip Beattie, the national secretary of the Alleanza Nazzjonali Repubblikana - Republican National Alliance, a newly formed pressure group which organised the demonstration.

Throughout the march, Mr Beattie repeatedly stressed ANR’s "sincere appeal against racial hatred". Once the demonstration was over and the crowd dispersed, many swarmed around Norman Lowell, leader of the far right movement Imperium Europa, who is facing charges of inciting racial hatred.

The issue of irregular immigration has long been a heated topic of discussion as Malta continues to get boatloads of migrants and the ANR wanted to tap into people’s emotions and insist on the need for repatriation.

Trouble brewed minutes after the crowd started moving from City Gate towards the Great Siege monument and encountered a small group atop the ruins of the Royal Opera House silently holding banners against racism.

The crowd booed, jeered and swore at Fr Mark Montebello, who held a poster questioning whether the demonstration conformed to Christian values. A Graffiti Movement banner proclaiming that The Real Threat Is Racism also provoked the crowd’s wrath.

In an attempt to keep the peace, the police forced Graffiti to put down their banner and insisted with Fr Montebello to move away. However, when he resisted, a few men broke away from the crowd to force the priest away and one of them managed to push him off the base of a stone column on which he was sitting.

The Graffitti members and Fr Montebello insisted they had a right to take a stand in the light of an "immoral" demonstration that "attacked the sacred values of society".

The police soon brought the situation under control and the crowd moved on to listen to ANR’s first public message, which attracted attention from foreign media.

Mr Beattie did not mince words and warned the crowd to steer away from violence, which would "give our opponents an excuse to hit at us".

"I do not want to see any violence, even if you are provoked. Do not add to the policemen’s troubles, they already have their hands full," he said.

"We cannot be split over a national issue which is of concern to all of us Maltese," he said as the crowd waved Maltese flags and placards with messages such as We Don’t Want a Multicultural Society, Let’s Defend our Country and Solidarity with Our Police and Army.

"We appeal to all those against us not to call us racist. We are proud to be Maltese and we just don’t want to become the toilet of the Mediterranean," he said to a deafening applause. He insisted that ANR was inspired by Catholic values and its motto reflected Maltese roots : faith, nationhood and family.

He explained that ANR believed that genuine asylum seekers deserved protection but it was extremely concerned with the influx of economic refugees who were not persecuted but merely wanted to improve their way of life.

"We cannot afford to accept this influx, we have to focus on repatriation. Malta is too small to deal with such a huge number of immigrants - this is not ideological talk but common sense. Our resources are being stretched as detention centres are bursting at the seams," he said.

"We should not hate the immigrants and any talk of extremism does nobody any good. This is not an issue of race, it’s just a worrying situation we all have to recognise."

While accepting that the government had made strides in addressing the issue, he felt more should be done and Mr Beattie appealed to Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Opposition Leader Alfred Sant to unite on this issue and work together at an international level to give the Maltese peace of mind.

Mr Beattie questioned why Libya, which had long been proclaimed a friend of Malta, had so far done nothing to step up its efforts to patrol the coast to control the influx of immigrants leaving for Europe.

He firmly said Malta did not require rice from the EU but financial help to tackle this growing problem.

In the coming weeks ANR will continue working on safeguarding the rights of the Maltese and planned to organise similar marches in the future. Mr Beattie told the crowd to spread the word that ANR had impeccable credentials and was not a racist group. When the demonstration ended the spotlight turned on Mr Lowell who expressed his satisfaction at the turnout and said that the more the right wing spectrum broadened the better.

Moviment Graffitti said after the demonstration it was concerned about the spread of racism and xenophobia.

Everything was done by the organisers of the demonstration to appear moderate with no intention of spreading racist and xenophobic ideas, the movement said.

The distinction being made between illegal immigrants and refugees did not make sense. Although the alliance is stating that it is against illegal immigrants, and not refugees, in reality whoever is a refugee had no other alternative route of entering Malta.

Many immigrants hail from places known to be ruled by dictators or where there is violent conflict that leaves thousands of people dead each year.

The illegal immigration issue has been blown out of all proportion. So much so that the country is in a state of panic and becoming more xenophobic.

Demonstrations like yesterday’s are only fuelling the fire, Graffitti added.

The people have their say

The following are just a few of the comments by people who gathered outside City Gate before the demonstration organised by the Alleanza Nazzjonali Repubblikana.

Marco Desira, 30 : "I’m here to protect my future. Repatriation is the immediate solution. The influx of illegal immigrants has reached such drastic proportions that in this case international obligations should no longer be regarded".

Maria Borg, 56 : "I’m here to safeguard the future of my children. The illegal immigrants are invading Malta and the island will no longer be ours at this rate. I hate them and I feel scared of them. I don’t like having them around".

Rita Spiteri, 25 : "I don’t like travelling on the same bus with these people. Apart from the fact that they have more rights than I do - at my place of work there are two of them who have a full-time job while I am constrained to work part-time against my wish. These people are egoistic and they are carrying diseases into our country".

Marcelle and John Tabone from Birzebbuga : "What bothers us is that if we need to go to hospital we have to wait in the queue but illegal immigrants are whisked right through. We also get angry when we see pregnant women - they have a culture of having a lot of children but we have to educate them and stop them doing so while here ; give them contraceptives if necessary. If we have to get them in, feed them and send them back home. Malta is too small to keep them here".

Liam Gauci, 18 : "We’re here to protest against illegal immigration. We’re prepared to accept and help a limited number who are really persecuted for a limited period of time but we cannot keep those coming for economic gains. Plus any notion of giving these people citizenship is unacceptable".

In The Times of Malta

The singer not the song

Sun 9th Oct 2005 {{}}

Micheal Falzon

The protest demonstration organised last Monday purportedly "against illegal immigration" ended up - as should have been expected by any sane, reasonable person - as a protest against illegal immigrants. The protest was not really against the song, but against the singer.

Any peace-loving, law-abiding citizen with a modicum of intelligence is naturally against any illegal activity and in this sense the ’reason’ for the protest march was ridiculous. I, for one, am not for illegal immigration but I abhor the sentiments expressed by many people when they talk about this problem. I abhor them because many of these sentiments are thinly-veiled excuses for racism and open hatred of fellow human beings.

Last Monday’s protest march continued to encourage these sentiments and perceptions based on irrational fears and emotional nonsense - irrespective of the real intentions of the organisers who, in their heart of hearts, must know that they were capitalising on these unfortunate sentiments to further their cause, whatever it is. In spite of the superb-sounding motto - Fides, patria et familia - of the newly formed Alleanza Nazzjonali Repubblikana (ANR), one cannot promote Christianity by abetting and justifying, directly or indirectly, anti-Christian sentiments based on an incredibly appalling lack of respect for human dignity.

The comments of some of those who took part in the demonstration that were reported in The Times last Tuesday sum it all up :

¤ "The illegal immigrants are invading Malta and the island will no longer be ours at this rate. I hate them and I feel scared of them. I don’t like having them around."

¤ "I don’t like travelling on the same bus with these people... These people are egoistic and they are carrying diseases into our country."

¤ "We also get angry when we see pregnant women - they have a culture of having a lot of children but we have to educate them and stop them doing so while here : give them contraceptives if necessary."

I had the opportunity to discuss the matter with two acquaintances of mine who felt they should take part in this protest. According to one of these, "We should not give ’them’ a walkover." When I retorted by asking for details of the game - or whatever - in which ’they’ are being given a walkover, he could not, of course, reply. This game is only in his imagination, and he even does not know what it consists of !

Another one came up with the oft-repeated fear in the sense that ’they’ will soon take over the country. In reply, I asked whether he meant that they are being given Maltese citizenship, and whether they have formed a political party that will be winning a majority of parliamentary seats in some future election. He stared at me as if I was talking nonsense, without realising that the nonsense was his in the first place.

The ignorance that is continuing to encourage this irrational fear is incredible. Many people think that the Armed Forces of Malta escort to Malta any boat with illegal immigrants that passes through Malta’s search and rescue area and were surprised when they heard that Deputy Prime Minister Tonio Borg had stated in Parliament that the Armed Forces escorted only those people on boats in distress or requesting assistance. This means that a much larger number of boats continue their journey to wherever they want to go - which is certainly not Malta - without any interference from Malta’s patrol boats.

This ignorance is not surprising, considering that from an interview in MaltaToday last Sunday, it resulted that one of the ANR founders, Philip Beattie, revealed that he is incredibly unaware of the provisions of the Malta Refugee Act and the process by which people are granted refugee status. Moreover, from what I could gather from his article in this paper last Sunday, apparently Mr Beattie even invented a term for those who think that we have a moral duty to treat illegal immigrants with the dignity they deserve as human beings. He calls them ’immigrationists’ who are "actively promoting indiscriminate immigration into our country" ! With leaders such as these, the racist comments of the followers who marched last Monday are hardly surprising.

I believe that the situation has now so deteriorated that the country needs very strong moral leadership on this issue.

Up to now, this has been forthcoming only from the Prime Minister and from Harry Vassallo of Alternattiva Demokratika. Claiming that having some 1,700 illegal immigrants in detention centres amounts to an enormous crisis, as many politicians on both sides of the House do, is ridiculous. This can only mean that the Maltese State is incapable of dealing with a hypothetical band of 1,700 armed Maltese criminals who concoct a revolt. If this is so, then the ineptitude of our forces of law and order poses a serious threat to the Maltese state !

As to the other leaders of the Maltese nation, the situation is even sorrier. The Leader of the Opposition, who is prepared to forego moral principles "in the national interest", can hardly give this moral leadership. GWU president Salv Sammut, of course, deserves a dishonourable mention for his awful speech at the union’s congress last Wednesday.

The Archbishop, who had an excellent opportunity to talk about the rising spectre of racism in his homily on Independence Day, opted to dogmatise on the morality or otherwise of IVF. This is no great surprise, really. In days of old, one could own human slaves - and trade in them - without committing any sin while masturbation was always considered a sin ! Yet, in my league of the dignity of human life, African black human beings come before human sperm. But then, I must have a warped mind !

And to top it all, the editor of The Malta Independent on Sunday, who is a priest, last week editorially pontificated that "we are in no way bound to rescue those who risk their lives voluntarily". This, after asking : "Are we waiting for a tragedy on the high seas to happen before we state loud and clear that if people are so crazy as to put out to sea in small boats, they should not endanger the lives of those who are there to help in real emergencies ?"

For the editor, "a tragedy on the high seas" apparently would happen when a Maltese rescuer loses his life doing his job. For him, it seems, the fact that the Mediterranean seabed is littered with corpses of black would-be immigrants who never made it to Europe is no tragedy !

How sad ! And how true it is that this country is in dire need of strong moral leadership on this issue.

In The Times of Malta

PM condemns GWU president’s attack on immigrants

Mon 10th Oct 2005 {{}}

Massimo Farrugia

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi has described the attack made by General Workers’ Union president Salvu Sammut on illegal immigrants as "very disturbing".

The re-elected GWU president told around 700 union delegates in a speech last week that immigrants were taking jobs from Maltese workers and that immigrant prostitutes were earning double the minimum weekly wage of a Maltese worker. Mr Sammut also said that in order to curb illegal immigration, Malta may be forced to take measures which were not necessarily "just and humane".

Asked to comment on Mr Sammut’s speech, Dr Gonzi harshly criticised the GWU president, saying such declarations "should be condemned without any reservation".

"Mr Sammut’s words were not different from Alfred Sant’s recent declaration that the national interest comes before human rights," Dr Gonzi said at a press conference in front of the Roman Domus in Rabat yesterday afternoon.

Accompanied by Nationalist MPs from the seventh district and Rabat PN councillors, Dr Gonzi had just slammed the Malta Labour Party for failing to deliver in local councils where it had won the majority.

"We have a majority of Labour councillors in Rabat. We hear of discord between the party councillors as the local council fails to deliver," Dr Gonzi said.

He added that the MLP also lacked direction on a national level and was failing to make concrete proposals on how the country’s problems should be tackled.

"I challenge the Labour Party to make concrete proposals on how it will regenerate the economy, and what it will do if faced with the soaring prices of oil. What are its policies in the social sphere ?"

The opposition, he said, constantly criticised the government without backing up its statements with concrete proposals.

Asked for his views on the Brindisi transshipment terminal - specifically on Dr Sant’s claims that the government had injected public money into a botched project - Dr Gonzi said the Brindisi saga had been born under a Labour government headed by Dr Sant and the government was now trying to patch up by reducing the losses incurred as much as possible.

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Documents

Refugee Act

(PDF – 71.9 ko)

Proposition d’amendement au Refugee Act

(PDF – 47.8 ko)