“Do they know?” Malta

“Do they know?” Malta“Does the international community know about this, what is happening here? This is what we used to ask each other when we were in prison in Libya.”
Asad, an asylum seeker in Malta

Since May 2009, some 1409 migrants, attempting to reach a place where they could obtain protection or the possibility to live in safety and dignity, were pushed back to Libya.

These actions were widely criticised and held by many to be a violation of international law, as Libya does not have the mechanisms in place to grant protection to those who need it and there is evidence that those returned would be at risk of harm.

“International Migrants Day is a good time to ask ourselves whether we are fully aware of the possible consequences of these actions for the people concerned. We believe that many who see this as a quick solution to the pressures that Malta is facing would think differently if they knew about the treatment that migrants face there,” said JRS Malta Director, Fr Joseph Cassar SJ.

Do They Know? is a collection of testimonies from asylum seekers who were granted protection in Malta, highlighting their experiences of life there. Published by JRS Malta to coincide with International Migrants Day, which is marked today, the testimonies reveal unthinkable hardship many migrants face in Libya, which is almost an obligatory transit country for sub-Saharan Africans fleeing widespread violence and human rights violations in their countries of origin.

JRS Malta believes that returning migrants to Libya, where they cannot obtain effective protection if they need it and where they face a real risk of serious harm, violates international law. They therefore call upon the government to:

• Ensure that all asylum seekers within Malta’s effective jurisdiction are allowed to apply for protection;
• Rescue migrants intercepted by the AFM (Armed Forces of Malta) if they have requested assistance, as otherwise their safety cannot be guaranteed;
• Ensure that all those rescued within Malta’s Search and Rescue Area are disembarked at a safe port, where those in search of protection can seek asylum;
• Refrain from actions that will result, directly or indirectly, in the return of migrants to a country where they risk suffering serious violations of their fundamental human rights.
“Do they know?” Malta
“While it is true that migrant boat people attempting the south-north crossing of the Mediterranean are not all necessarily fleeing persecution,” Fr Cassar said, “this does not justify returning anyone to a country where her/his life might be seriously at risk. Malta has an obligation to ensure that the rights of all migrants within its effective jurisdiction are protected, regardless of their legal status.” He also recalled that more than 50% of asylum seekers reaching Malta and Italy last year were granted some form of protection.

Drawing on the reserve of kindness that many people demonstrate, JRS Malta added that “No authentically human attitude would be insensitive to the immense suffering many of our interviewees have experienced or witnessed,” and concluded “Surely, many more people would think differently, if they knew...”

“Do they know?” MaltaFor further information:


Related Posts

Maltese Colours


Maltese ColoursMarco Brown, whose mother is Maltese, was born in the UK in 1969. From a very early age he was exposed to a cosmopolitan atmosphere and was already speaking his first words of French by 5years old. He had already lived in 6 countries when 3 years ago he came to Malta to find his roots. His colourful paintings stem from his dreamed landscapes of the Mediterranean and a personal interpretation of Mythology.

A “Prophetic Call” for Fair Trade


A “Prophetic Call” for Fair TradeA survey carried out in 1997 found that awareness of fair trade as a concept in the Mediterranean member states of the EU was very low and that there was a greater awareness and experience of fair trade products in the northern and central Member States. The study claimed that “only 13% of French, Greek or Portuguese citizens had ever heard of the concept of fair trade, and only 3-4% had ever purchased any fair trade goods.” Can we draw any link between Fair Trade and religion?

Caught in a Dirty Business


Caught in a Dirty BusinessThis year’s edition of the Taste the World fair trade festival to be held on Saturday, 9th December at St. James Cavalier in Valletta, will focus on the injustices that plague the cotton and textile industry in general and urge consumers in Malta to voice their concern and choose those products that respect workers and the natural environment.