NGO Repubblika accuses Government of having no policy on racism

Puts forward 17 proposals to against racism and hate speech

The rule of law NGO Repubblika proposed to the government to enforce the obligation on Public Broadcasting to provide space for minorities. This is one of 17 proposals made by the NGO which include the initiation of a “social housing program that is effective in fighting homelessness and living in extreme poverty or unhygienic conditions” criticising the government for allowing social housing to fall by the wayside.

These proposals were made in the context of replies to a government call for a consultation for the compilation of a policy paper on racism and xenophobia. Reppubblika accused government that its “discourse led and encouraged racism, hate speech and a justification on racialist grounds for discrimination against, and the denial of basic human rights of, people purely on the basis of the colour of their skin”. On the issue of hate speech, it accused the government of leaving the Hate Speech unit an ‘inactive shell’.

WE CANNOT SERIOUSLY BEGIN TO CONSIDER ANTI-RACISM POLICIES WHEN THE

COUNTRY RETAINS A POLICY OF COOPERATION WITH THE AUTHORITIES IN LIBYA TO

ARRANGE FOR THE UNLAWFUL DETENTION, TORTURE, ENSLAVEMENT, EXPLOITATION

AND RAPE OF MIGRANTS.

Repubblika had some very hard words for the government on the issue of racism and hate speech. It criticised the government for not putting forward proposals, saying that “It would seem therefore that at this stage you are looking for other people’s proposals before you decide what yours should be”.

It expressed further concern on policies involving migration which have resulted in the death of at least 12 migrants around Easter time.

“We recognise that a magisterial inquiry has established that the government or the army bear no criminal responsibility for these deaths, but for reasons we have argued elsewhere we believe the conclusions of the inquiry are coloured by the same racial prejudice that justified the government’s actions in the first place” affirmed Repubblika who argued that the policies adopted by government at the time were based “on grounds which we argue are racist, particularly the notion that natives of Malta are better entitled to the protection from covid infection than migrants from Africa”.

Repubblika said that the idea that Malta is “full up” for some but not for others “is not a spectrum made up of two shades. The government’s discourse ranks races in a complex hierarchy where “the Maltese” rank on top and those permitted to live here are tolerated as an underclass of servants” citing as evidence remarks described as racist made by former PM Joseph Muscat that he preferred to see foreigners do menial jobs.

Proposals

  • All residents of Malta, irrespective of their place of birth or the place of birth of their parents, are entitled to participate in the democratic process of Malta.
  • All long-term residents of Malta should be automatically placed on a path to citizenship
  • The government of Malta must reverse its policies in order to renew the country’s commitment to international law and to the universal respect of humanitarian principles
  • For as long as minorities are effectively excluded from public life and institutional roles, racial exclusion, discrimination and injustice whether wilful or consequential will not begin to be addressed.
  • Public broadcasting has a public service obligation to provide space for minority views and interests, to give voice to their concerns and to provide exposure to evolving culture as it is enriched with the arrival of migrants and their integration in our community.
  • Hate speech – that is the attribution of derogatory terms, the incitement for discrimination or unlawful retribution, or violent language addressed to anyone based on the fact that they belong to a recognisable group of people, particularly minorities – must be the subject of proper police action and prosecution.
  • Political parties or organisations that systematically resort to hate speech, to the promotion of racialist policies and who argue for systematic discrimination should, after due legal process under judicial oversight, be disbanded and banned.
  • The detention of migrants undergoing proceedings to review asylum applications must be restricted to the shortest possible time and assessed frequently under periodic judicial review that will only permit detention on demonstrable grounds of security or medical risk.
  • There should be a social housing program that is effective in fighting homelessness and living in extreme poverty or unhygienic conditions.
  • Integration policy should not amount to an attempt at assimilation.
  • Our educational programs need to re-examine historical interpretations that contribute to a warped notion of what it means to be Maltese in a manner that in some people’s mind continues to justify ethnic, religious or racial prejudices against others.
  • Beyond the study of history, educational curricula must make a conscious shift away from eurocentrism to a more balanced view of the world.
  • The public administration requires an anti-racism czar to watch out for and expose wilful or consequential racial discrimination or racially prejudiced conduct that would provide the wrong example to the community.
  • It should be incumbent on state agencies to ensure people who are unable to communicate in Maltese or English to be provided with information and support in languages they can understand.
  • Malta should provide safe corridors for immigrants seeking refuge from war, famine and economic degradation.
  • Economic migration” should not be considered as criminal, or somehow unlawful.
  •  Specific attention is needed to the fair treatment of people not born in Malta or descended from people not born in Malta in the criminal, judicial, detention and penal systems of the country.