EU refuses to fund migrant detention on pleasure boats

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Malta’s decision to detain asylum seekers on a number of pleasure boats – mostly those owned by Captain Morgan – for weeks on end has not found the support of the European Commission, which has rejected the government’s request to fund the controversial practice.

The Times of Malta reported that the government sought to use the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund – it still has around €10 million in AMIF funds available for use – but the impromptu floating prisons were deemed ineligible for support.

After the controversial decision to send a boatload of people in distress back to Libya – in an apparent breach of international law – last April, justified on the basis that Maltese ports were closed, the government changed tack, deciding to lease a pleasure boat from Captain Morgan at €3,000 a day to detain asylum seekers indefinitely. Ultimately, the government ended up leasing four boats for this purpose, of which 3 belonged to Captain Morgan and one to Supreme Cruises, all leased via direct order.

This detention ended unceremoniously last weekend amid reports of unrest on the Captain Morgan vessel Europa II.

In a reaction to the news, the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation highlighted that the arbitrary detention of the asylum seekers was illegal, and that their detention on a boat in rough seas was cruel and unusual punishment.

BREAKING: The EU rejected the Prime Minister's request to fund the Zammit Tabona/Captain Morgan floating prisons. It…

Posted by The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation on Tuesday, June 9, 2020

It also flagged Captain Morgan’s ownership by the Zammit Tabona, prominent donors to the Labour Party.