Wednesday

26th Jun 2019

Outrage over Malta's plan to kick out asylum seekers

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg has blocked Malta from a "push-back" of Somalian asylum seekers.

It issued the injunction on Tuesday (9 July) amid plans by authorities to put 45 of the would-be refugees under police guard on flights to Mitiga in Libya.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Valetta. Muscat said: 'Our position has reaped the necessary results' (Photo: European Commission)

They are part of a group of 102 men, women and infants picked up by the Maltese coastguard earlier the same day after crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

Malta last week rescued 291 people in similar circumstances.

It said on Tuesday that two more boat-fulls of people are on their way, one of them carrying 68 people, including a woman who gave birth on board and who needs medical attention.

The ECHR took the step after Maltese NGOs filed a complaint.

It came after a statement by the European Commission earlier the same day failed to make an impact.

Home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom had told Malta it risks violating both EU and international law on "non-refoulement" if it does not give people the chance to file asylum requests and does not give their applications due consideration.

"The European Commission will use all the tools at its disposal to make sure member states fully respect their obligations in this regard. We also stand ready to increase our support to Malta if it should face growing migratory pressure," she said.

For his part, the country's centre-left Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, defended his actions in parliament.

He said he was acting in the national interest and that EU institutions had ignored Malta's previous appeals for help.

"The [EU] commission … said it was ready to discuss offering Malta more assistance as news came in that we were considering all options. I'd say that this was a concrete example that our position has reaped the necessary results," he said, according to the Maltatoday news agency.

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said Muscat's actions are "objectionable morally, legally and politically" and accused him of "tarnishing our reputation in Europe."

According to the US-based NGO Human Rights Watch, migrants in Libya risk forced labour and police brutality.

Somalian nationals are also entitled to protection because their country is in a state of civil war.

In related events, the Greek coastguard on Wednesday rescued over 130 people, 38 of whom are children, of Afghan and Syrian origin, after their boat began to sink near the Greek island of Crete.

Asylum seeker beaten to death in Malta

An asylum seeker beaten to death in Malta over the weekend has highlighted the country’s poor reception conditions for migrants.

EU commission warns Malta on migrant boat

The European Commission has warned Malta it would be in breach of international law if it refused to let a tanker full of rescued migrants dock.

Russians top EU asylum seekers

The EU saw the highest number of asylum seekers come from Russia at the beginning of this year, with Syrians following closely behind.

Investigation

Malta's sale of EU passports causes controversy

A British consultancy will make millions for helping Malta to create EU citizens-on-paper, amid questions on conflict of interest and national security.

News in Brief

  1. EU universities to share students, curricula
  2. Migrant rescue ship loses Human Rights Court appeal
  3. Denmark completes social democrat sweep of Nordics
  4. Johnson offers 'do or die' pledge on Brexit
  5. Weber indirectly attacks Macron in newspaper op-ed
  6. EU to sign free trade deal with Vietnam
  7. EU funding of air traffic control 'largely unnecessary'
  8. Share trading ban looms as Swiss row with EU escalates

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  4. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  6. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  7. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  8. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  9. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate

Latest News

  1. EU moves to end car-testing 'confidentiality clause'
  2. EU parliament gives extra time for leaders on top jobs
  3. Europe's rights watchdog lifts Russia sanctions
  4. EU-Vietnam trade deal a bad day for workers' rights
  5. EU 'special envoy' going to US plan for Palestine
  6. Polish judicial reforms broke EU law, court says
  7. EU study: no evidence of 'East vs West' food discrimination
  8. Russia tried to stir up Irish troubles, US think tank says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us