International journalist brushes off Gafà’s ‘threats’

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

A veritable storm has been kicked up on the social media as former OPM functionary Neville Gafà appeared to raise threats against veteran international journalist Nello Scavo. The Italian journalist has been following ground-breaking stories on tacit pushbacks into Libyan concentration camps on aspiring migrants from all over the African continent. In his researches, published on L’AVVENIRE and worked both independently and in collaboration with THE NEW YORK TIMES and THE GUARDIAN, Scavo has uncovered a system which punishes humanity for the sake of legality.

“We will stop you”

In reply to a tweet by Scavo, Neville Gafà replied: “Stop your dirty business, if not we will be stopping you”. This tweet by Gafà was aimed at Scavo, the rescue platform Alarm Phone and Rescue Med. The tone is ominous and very reminiscent of novels. When Scavo asked who ‘we’ included, no reply was given. This tweet by Gafa is also odd when one considers that this week, he told off the Minister for Foreign Affairs for praising the Libyan Government, intimating that the Libyan prisons left much to be desired.

Meanwhile, top Italian journalist Paolo Borrometi, himself under police protection for the past 6 years, took up the cudgels in favour of his colleague: “That the Maltese government was not well inclined towards freedom of the press we had (unfortunately) already understood. The threats to @nelloscavo open once more the wounds caused by the death of the great #Daphne. We must remind whoever governs in #Malta that journalism enriches. Shame on you” (Translation). Borrometi was not alone.

Gafà’s cold feet

In the wake of the considerable reaction this oblique threat raised, Newsbook.com.mt contacted Neville Gafà for his side of the story. “What I write in social media, I write solely in my name and no one else’s. I wrote the tweet in reply to Alarm Phone and not as a reply to some Italian journalist as it may have appeared. It is unacceptable that an organisation such as this (ie AlarmPhone) who co-ordinates illegal immigration together with human traffickers, insults and calls names European governments on a regular basis, particularly the Italian and the Maltese governments. This Italian journalist has written a series of articles about me to which I have never replied. I remain in favour of missions carried out by Frontex, the AFM and the Libyan Coastguard. This so that our country will not be over-run by an influx of irregular migrants”. He ended his message to Newsbook in the traditional “Malta first and Foremost”, first coined by the late Maltese PM Dom Mintoff.

Scavo smiled

A seasoned journalist like Scavo too would have a reaction to this ‘one step forward, two steps back’ approach. Contacted by Newsbook.com.mt, Scavo’s initial reaction was “Ah, so he has retracted”, and he smiled. “I am not surprised at the tone used by Gafà. With all the evidence which our work has dug up, we have stirred the waters especially with the recent investigations on the illegal export of oil from Libya. This involves Libyan Militia officers, persons from Malta and members of the Sicilian Mafia. I will continue to do my job and I thank the Catholic media of L’AVVENIRE for the courage and support they have given me. The accusations of dubious persons will not distract me from my job and their ‘discomfort’ only goes to confirm that there is still so much more to be brought to light. I would also like to thank the brave Maltese journalists and the hundreds of Maltese citizens who help us to reconstruct events with their information” wrote Scavo.  

Scavo added that the fact that Gafà now tried to retract his words in no way modifies the meaning of his message. If anything, added the journalist, “it confirms a hostile and ambivalent attitude above all when it speaks of a ‘we’ without explaining who the ‘we’ are. So the question remains: for whom does Gafà speak?”

The real dirty business

Fr Mattia Ferrari, the chaplain of Mediterranea Saving Humans contacted by Newsbook.com.mt, did not take the tweet lightly and came out guns blazing: “We will never stop our work. We fear God, we don’t fear men. We invite Neville Gafa’ to not waste his energy: no one will stop our work. We will continue our work till there will be even one person who risks to die at sea or to be caught and pushed back to Libya. We cannot be stopped because you cannot stop love”.

Fr Ferrari observed that some Maltese politicians (just like some Italian politicians did) have called the work of Mediterranea Saving Humans, of Alarm Phone and of the NGOs “dirty business”. “The real “dirty business” is that of human trafficking, oil, drugs and other things revealed with great courage by Nello Scavo. And the real “dirty business” is that of agreements between Italy and Libya and between Malta and Libya, which finance the so-called Libyan Coast Guard to catch people at sea and to bring them to areas in which their safety is completely at risk: this is a very big violation of the international human right to “non refoulment” wrote Fr Ferrari.

The Chaplain recalled that many bishops and cardinals describe what Mediterranea saving humans, Alarm Phone and NGOs do as “the work of God”. “That’s the truth. We invite every people to open their hearts to justice and humanity and to understand they will really find the joy in their life if they understand an only human family and we should take care of each other. This is what Mediterranea saving humans, Alarm Phone and the ONGs do, just like many churches and associations. This is what gives the true joy to our heart, while the “dirty business” of refoulements, shipwrecks and mafia destroys humanity and give unhappiness to the hearts,” concluded Fr Ferrari in a cri du coeur .