“The cow farm could accommodate more than 100 people”

REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

The Police has said that investigations in collaboration with the Planning Authority into the cow farm situated on the outskirts of Qormi were still ongoing.

Back in July an onsite inspection was carried out, which led to the issuing of an enforcement notice. The Planning Authority took action against the cow farm on Monday 13 August.

A Police spokesperson told Newsbook.com.mt that the Police were still talking to people who may help in the ongoing investigation. In reply to questions sent in by this newsroom, the Police spokesperson said that 30 men over the age of 18 were found onsite when the enforcement action took place.

Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia, who is also responsible for migration, had insisted that the case was in the hands of the Planning Authority and that it was up to the Authority to take the necessary action.

The Minister’s statement was confirmed by the Police who said that the action was led by the Planning Authority and that the Police were only there to assist the them. The Police spokesperson remarked that it was procedure to be “on site to provide security to MEPA officers, together with the maintenance of public order”.

The Police failed to reply on whether the landlord or owner of the cow farm had been identified. They also did not reply when asked if the case could be considered as human trafficking and whether there was a follow-up on where the migrants spent the nights after being evicted.

“There should have been a Plan B in place.”

In comments he gave to Newsbook.com.mt, Dr Neil Falzon from the aditus Foundation said that the Authority should have had a ‘Plan B’ given that they knew that people were living on the farm who could end up homeless once evicted. He remarked that while the Planning Authority was correct in enforcing its regulations, the case was not limited to planning.

He said that the relevant authorities could have informed those present that such an enforcement action was due, thus giving them the opportunity to find an alternative place to stay. Falzon concluded by rhetorically asking what would have happened in the case that children and/or vulnerable people had been found living on the farm.