Civil society wants PM Abela to break silence on alleged pushbacks

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

NGO Repubblika stated that Neville Gafa’s statement cornered Prime Minister Robert Abela on the alleged migrants push back.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Repubblika said that what the former OPM official stated is shocking and accuses Prime Minister Abela of ordering for the co-ordination of migrants pushbacks to Libya.

On Wednesday Neville Gafa’ confirmed with Newsbook.com.mt that under oath he had co-ordinated the push back of the 51 migrants involved in the Pasquetta Tragedy on instructions of the Office of the Prime Minister.

In his answer to Newsbook, he did not identify the identity of the person who gave him these instructions.

The sworn statement was given to Magistrate Joe Mifsud who is hearing the criminal case instituted by the civil rights NGO Repubblika.

The NGO said that this statement also accuses Prime Minister Robert Abela of breaching Malta’s obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights. Repubblika explained that under these obligations Malta has the duty to safeguard lives.

Repubblika has called on the relevant authorities to investigate such claims and to take the necessary actions.

The number of dead migrants at sea is increasing due to the Maltese government’s decisions, stated the NGO.

In the meantime, the article published by this newsroom was also shared by Stephen Grey, a Reuter’s journalist. On Twitter, Grey said that what Gafa’ has stated is an “astonishing allegation.”

Government has to disclose details of all Gafá’s activities in relation to illegal pushbacks – Aditus

In a joint statement, civil society said that it is appalled by yesterday’s revelations by Neville Gafá.

Aditus said that the government is fully aware that returning migrants to Libya is a clear and unequivocal breach of international law, confirmed in 2013 by a decree of the European Court of Human Rights against Malta.

“Attempting to circumvent these obligations through the engagement of a private vessel would in no way absolve Malta of its legal and moral responsibilities. On the contrary, if such allegations of collusion were to be confirmed, they would indicate a cowardly and callous approach to human dignity itself” – stated Aditus.

The NGO urged the Government to provide clear and regularly updated information on every action taken by the Armed Forces of Malta since the moment it was alerted of the situation of around 62 migrants in distress in Malta’s Search and Rescue Zone.

Aditus also said that it expects the Government to clarify its relationship with the owner of the Dar al Salam 1 (formerly the Mae Yemenija), in particular whether it instructed, requested or in any way cooperated with the owner to secure the return to Libya of at least one group of migrants.