Malta informed its navy has seized control of a tanker ship hijacked by migrants in the Mediterranean, according to a government statement. (Image above: illustration).
“The Captain repeatedly stated that he was not in control of the vessel and that he and his crew were being forced and threatened by a number of migrants to proceed to Malta. AFM Patrol Vessel P21 stopped the tanker from entering the Maltese territorial waters,” the government statement said.
Maltese maritime authorities established contact with the vessel’s captain when the tanker was about 30 nautical miles (55 km) off the coast.
Italy‘s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, , said that relevant authorities would not have allowed “criminals” who had committed an act of piracy to enter its ports.
Regardless an act of piracy the Sea Watch, NGO which carries out search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, criticized Salvini‘s comments, blaming Europe for despair, pushing Africans to criminal path.
“We must look to these 108 people with an eye of humanity and understand that any actions taken yesterday were in self-defense against the deadly consequences forced upon them by Europe’s inhumane border policy,” says Johannes Bayer, Chairman of Sea-Watch.
Several police vans were lined up in the port to take custody of the migrants for investigation, and five migrants were removed from the ship in handcuffs.
Malta officials report 100 illegal migrants arrived on board of a hijacked vessel — 38 men, 15 women and 47 claiming to be minors. In absence of documents the real age of the “minors” is impossible to establish in ordinary legal procedures, the status of a minor automatically foresees a set of advantages, and makes it much easier for migrants to obtain asylum status.
Illegal migrants who were refused by Italy for several days after being rescued in the Mediterranean (August 2018) have filed two legal petitions against their treatment a pro Deo lawyer representing their interest said.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has encouraged the government’s tough stance on migrants, refused to let the asylum seekers off the ship during a standoff with the European Union, demanding the other member-states to demonstrate solidarity, and host some of the migrants.
Catania prosecutors wanted to press ahead with criminal charges against Salvini in relation to this but this week the immunity panel of the Senate voted down the permission for the case to proceed.
“The aim of the petition is not to obtain damages, but to ascertain whether conduct that did not comply with the law took place,” lawyer Alessandro Ferrara said.
“The damages could be a symbolic amount of one euro. The important thing is that clarification is obtained on that conduct“. Petitions to a Rome court and to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have been presented by 42 migrants who were on the Diciotti vessel.
Australia will reopen a controversial detention center for asylum seekers on Christmas Island, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after the defeat in parliament.
The opposition Labor party and independents voted to amend strict immigration laws to give medics the right to transfer some 1,000 men and woman from two Pacific detention centers if they need treatment.
The amendment, approved by the Senate on January 13 dealt a blow to the ruling conservative coalition which is trailing heavily in polls ahead of an election due in May.
The Christmas Island immigration detention camp, south of Jakarta, Indonesia, was a favorite target of people smugglers who brought asylum seekers from Asia, Africa and the Middle East in dinky boats from Indonesian ports before the trade virtually stopped in recent years.
The Netherlands will refuse an Italian of the Minister of Interior Matteo Salvini requesting to accept 47 migrants on humanitarian ship that is being blocked from Italian ports, it said in an issued statement.
The Sea Watch 3, run by a German humanitarian group and flying a Dutch flag, recovered the migrants out of a rubber boat off coast of Libya more than a week ago.
Since then it has been sailing through high winds and 7-metre (23 ft) waves. Taking into consideration the weather, Italian authorities allowed the vessel to enter its waters, to find a shelter from a storm, however they refused to accept the illegal migrants. It is the second shuttle of the NGO vessel this month, the previous trip was successful, and they managed to convince the EU states to accept the migrants. Probably this success encouraged the crew to repeat it, demanding Europe to share the reception of illegal migrants between the member-states.
The EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini calls Mediterranean countries to work together on issues of migration: “we share a challenge and we can only solve and address this phenomenon if we take a cooperative approach based on partnership among equals”.
“…What happens around the Mediterranean and in the Mediterranean matters to the whole of Europe and not just to the countries that are around the coasts of our common sea.
“It is not just about migration – it made itself evident that we need to come together to manage the phenomenon -, it is also about security; about economic development; about climate change..”
“…Some of us have experienced war inside their countries or at their borders and we have all seen how difficult a transition can be – be it a transition from war to an inclusive peaceful reconciliation and the building of state institutions or be it from a war economy to a solid peace economy. These trends have fostered migration from our countries, through our countries and towards our countries.”
“.. I believe that it is high-time today to try to find and open new avenues of cooperation across the Southern shore of the Mediterranean, in particular in the Maghreb, as a win-win exercise, starting on practical matters” – Mogherini concluded.
Above the extracts from Federica Mogherini speech at “Working together: A sustainable future for the Western Mediterranean“, at the 15th meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the 5+5 Western Mediterranean Dialogue. France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia gathered inValletta January, 18.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has reiterated his refusal to NGO-run illegal migrant-rescue ships to dock.
The League leader was commenting amid concern about 49 asylum seekers saved in the Mediterranean by German NGOs Sea-Watch and Sea Eye who have not been allocated a port of safety amid a standoff.
Pope Francis in vain made an appeal to European leaders to “show concrete solidarity” in this case. Many Italian consider that their good will and hospitality were abused, while the majority of the EU counties did nothing to relocate migrants constantly arriving to Italian coasts from Africa.
Pope Francis urged European leaders on December 6 to stop arguing over the fate of 49 migrants stuck aboard two humanitarian rescue ships on the Mediterranean and to offer them a safe port to disembark. (Image: illustration).
With his comments at his address to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square at the end marking the feast of the Epiphany, Pontifex entered into a diplomatic raw between Italy and Malta.
Meanwhile the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has underlined that he is not going to transfer Malta into a hosting centre for illegal migrants who were saved by humanitarian vessels and rejected to disembark in the other ports.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini remined the Mayor of Naples, who is ready to accept NGO vessels with illegal migrants, that he has to respect the migrant decree. “Anyone who helps clandestine migrants hates Italians” he explains.