500 healthcare professionals, including 260 medical doctors, have signed the letter calling for Prime Minister Abela to reconsider his stance on sea rescue and disembarkation. They said that it is contradictory to allow people to die in the name of public health.
The updated list of signatories has been sent to Prime Minister Abela, and copied to the Ministers of Health and Home Affairs and to the Superintendent of Public Health.
The signatories said that the news that Malta had closed its borders to immigrants in distress in the Maltese Search and Rescue Zone came as a shock to them. They asked whether Malta’s Covid-19 response must come at the expense of human rights.
On Wednesday five asylum seekers were reported dead by the International Organisation of Migration after a boat of 51 survivors which was adrift in the Maltese search and rescue region was brought back to Libya. Another seven migrants are believed to be missing.
The healthcare professionals stated that in times of a pandemic, many otherwise normal actions come with a risk. Malta has taken some of these risks, such as not enforcing a full public lockdown and allowing the hunting season to commence.
Their letter to the Prime Minister reads that “While rescuing people in distress at sea and allowing them to disembark in Malta is not totally risk-free, it does not justify violating human rights and there are steps that can be taken to mitigate risk. We acknowledge that the current COVID-19 situation in Malta is serious. However, allowing people to die in the name of public health is contradictory and utterly nonsensical. We cannot abandon our moral and ethical responsibilities and the state likewise cannot abandon its positive obligation to protect the right to life.”
They ended their letter with a plea to the Prime Minister to reconsider his stance and come to the aid of those whose lives are at risk at sea.
If you want to be the first to receive the latest news on the coronavirus in Malta, download the Newsbook APP here.