NGOs call on EU Commissioner to intervene over migrants housed on Captain Morgan vessels

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Three human rights non-governmental organisations have written to Home Affairs European Commissioner Ylva Johansson about the asylum seekers currently being housed on two private vessels owned by Captain Morgan which were chartered by the government. More than 150 individuals are being kept on vessels which are normally used for day cruises around the islands.

Aditus Foundation, JRS Malta and Integra Foundation questioned whether the chartered vessels were adequate to hold such a large group of people on board for days on end.

The rescued individuals are currently being held on Captain Morgan’s Europa II and Atlantis. Many of them have been out at sea for over two weeks, this does not include the time at sea before their rescue. The NGOs expressed their “serious and urgent” concern about the ongoing situation.

“Living conditions aboard the vessels must be extremely challenging, as these are boats generally used for parties or for tours of Malta’s coast. The vessels usually sail under a Commercial Vessel Certificate, which allows them to sail within three nautical miles from land and not more than three nautical miles from a place of refuge, in favourable weather conditions. They are not equipped to host people for long periods of time.”

The NGOs underlined that they had no information as to whether any assessments had been conducted to identify vulnerable persons or unaccompanied minors, although 18 women and children were brought to ashore to Malta.

The NGOs highlighted that those on board the two privately chartered vessels had no access to lawyers, human rights organisations, interpreters or the UNHCR.

“From what we can understand, they have not been provided information as to their legal situation and related rights. In particular, we sincerely doubt that the right or possibility to seek asylum has been explained to them, as it is clear that Malta’s intentions are for them not to reach Maltese territory,” the organisations said.

The human rights organisations maintained that keeping the asylum seekers on board the vessels deprived them of their personal liberty and was contrary to Article 6 of the EU’s fundamental rights charter.

The organisations highlighted the irony of Malta’s request for funding to cover the costs of the vessels out at sea.

“On the one hand – Malta is treating the persons on board the vessels as if they were wholly outside the protection afforded by national, European and international law whilst simultaneously seeking assistance from European Union to keep this situation afloat.”