Tag Archives: Malta

Migrant vessel captain escapes imprisonment

The captain of a illegal migrants rescue ship received fine of €10,000  by a Maltese court, after being found guilty of intruding into national waters almost one year ago without respecting procedures for crossing state borders.

In issuing the fine, the court recommended that the funds be  used for charitable migrants causes.

The court is concerned by the level of rhetoric and racism surrounding this case and migration in Malta,” Joseph Mifsud ,the Magistrate, said in his ruling.

The magistrate also underlined they will not impose 12 month prison sentence, foreseen for this kind of illegal activities,  because the court “immediately understood the circumstances of the case”.

ClausPeter Reisch 57, born in Munich Germany, as captain of the vessel Lifeline,  was charged with entering Maltese territorial waters illegally and without proper registration, and a licence.

The MV Lifeline vessel was impounded by transport authorities of Malta in June 2018 after disembarking 234 illegal migrants it had according to their own words “rescued off Libya coasts“. Maltese politicians repeatedly accuse the NGOs of aiding people smugglers, contributing to existence of criminal networks.

The skipper, Mr.Reisch, as subsequently charged with operating a ship that was not registered for rescue operations.

Mr.Reisch gave an explanation to the court that his ship was logged in the Netherlands, but Magistrate Joseph Mifsud said documents supplied by the Dutch Registry clarified they did not recognize the vessel as registered under their flag.

The captain was granted bail on a personal guarantee of €10,000 euros and had to deposit his passport in court. Mr.Reisch was facing a maximum jail term of one year and an €11,600 fine, or a combination of both.

The ship was removed from the custody of the court, but it is unclear what further procedures would be applied.

The court case, and fine do not hinder in any way the activities of the NGO, which is determined to continue, and recruits people to fulfill the mission of transporting illegal migrants from Libyan costs to Europe: “Join our crew too! Apply for one of our rescue missions! “, says the ad of the Lifeline.

 

 

 

 

Sea-Watch blames EU for migrant piracy

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.

STOP Malta birds massacre!

MEP Anja Hazekamp (The Netherlands) asked the Commissioner for Environment K for action against Malta, refusing to put an end to the spring hunting of migratory birds.  The MEP picketed the main entrance of the European Parliament in Brussels at Simone Veil Agora to display the sign of ban for migratory birds killings.

    • Malta is a hosting place for some 170 species of birds migrating between Europe and Africa. But poachers kill or capture up to 200,000 wild birds every year — a problem widespread across the Mediterranean.
    • In particular, illegal trapping of birds such as finches continues to persist in Malta, despite the European Court of Justice ruling against Malta for allowing the trapping of protected species.
    • To legalize finch trapping within the framework of European law, Malta used a legal maneuver called a derogation by claiming that finch trapping was a traditional practice in the country.
    • Such legal derogation is being used as a smokescreen to illegally trap finches and other protected species not just in Malta but in other countries as well.

The vast majority of these birds, including white storks (Ciconia ciconia) and black storks (Ciconia nigra), are strictly protected under the European Union’s Birds Directive of 1972. But in Malta, poachers kill or capture up to 200,000 wild birds every year: shooting them for food, taxidermy or simply target practice, or trapping them to keep as pets or live hunting decoys.

As they come in to magnificent Malta islands, the migratory birds are confronted by 10,000 hunters with the a cynical motto, “if it flies… it dies,”  launching the massacre. So far the Maltese Government not only tolerates but encourages and protects the abuse of the EU law on wildlife protection, referring to centuries old ‘cultural’ tradition. The referendum (2015) showed the public opinion divided; the pro-hunting camp had won by 2,200 votes, with 126,434 votes in favour of keeping the spring hunt alive and 124,214 against. (Image below: trapped bird).

Malta bird

Bulgaria abandons passport for investment practice

Bulgaria plans to end practice offering wealthy foreigners to obtain citizenship against investment, the justice ministry said on the 22 of January,  adding the scheme had failed to bring any significant economic benefits.

The legal changes come a day after the media reports about the European Commission plans to warn against such an application schemes, which could be used by foreign organized crime groups to infiltrate the EU. It also increases the risk of money laundering, emblazonment, corruption and tax evasion.

Bulgaria is one of three EU countries, along with Cyprus and Malta, that currently grant citizenship against investment. The other 20 member states, including these three, also offer the resident permits on similar conditions.

EU warns against “selling passports” to wealthy

The European Commission will warn against selling the EU citizenship or residence to wealthy individuals, which could help foreign organized crime groups infiltrate the bloc and increase the risk of money laundering, corruption and tax evasion.

The warnings are included in a draft report that is expected to be published on January 23 by the European Union’s executive, according to Reuters.

Although individuals who purchase citizenship and residence in EU states can do it for legitimate reasons, the commission said the schemes posed “risks of infiltration of non-EU organized crime groups in the economy, money laundering, corruption and tax evasion.”

Malta (pictured), Cyprus and Bulgaria are the countries practicing attraction of wealth in exchange of the citizenship.

The issue of granting EU citizenship is regularity under fire of criticism, while countries issue passports to individuals in spite of their criminal records.

Pope defends rejected illegal migrants

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.

 

Malta demands Aquarius to clarify its status

Fifty-eight migrants aboard the #Aquarius NGO rescue vessel will be trasported to Malta and from there to France, Germany, Portugal and Spain, after a deal was reached to share the responsibility for the arrivals among EU member-states.

The migrants will “disembark in international waters”, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted from the UN General Assembly in New York.

However he urged Aquarius vessel to clarify its status. Since February 2016 the vessel operates as major transport for NGO SOS Mediterranée and Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF, or Doctors without borders) to search and rescue illegal migrants from African coasts, mainly Libya, assisting their safe sea crossing to  reach European shores.

Panama authorities have begun procedures to revoke the registration of the Aquarius illegal  migrants rescue ship operating in the central Mediterranean. Charities say the Italian government is to blame for the move.

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