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).
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.
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 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.
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.
Nimrod Mifsud, a BirdLife Malta volunteer for over ten years, has shown passion and drive in his efforts to help birds migrating over Malta leave safely without being trapped or killed by hunters in line with island’s an ancient tradition of hostility against birds.
“Nimrod demonstrates a passion and drive for ensuring birds migrating over Malta leave our islands safely without persecution”, says Mark Sultana, BirdLife Malta’s CEO. “He has suffered verbal and physical abuse while out monitoring illegal hunting. Thanks to his interventions, illegal hunters and trappers have been brought to justice. He is an excellent mentor for new volunteers, keeping the group motivated at difficult times. His willingness to go above and beyond also means he is always on hand to provide extra support when it comes to ensuring that birds are protected. Nimrod is also skilled in transmitting his passion to nature protection to others and is an essential asset during campaigns and educational events.”
A NGO vessel Lifeline with 233 illegal migrants from Libyan coasts on board stranded in the Mediterranean since Friday, June 22 will finally dock in Malta, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said. The vessel was rejected by Italy, under policies of fighting illegal migration and human trafficking conducted by Interior minister Matteo Salvini.
Conte said he had reached an agreement to allow the Lifeline to dock after telephone talks with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
In a statement, Conte said that Italy would host some of the migrants and called on other countries to “do the same.”
Italy, Malta, France and Portugal have already confirmed their participation, according to a spokesman for the Maltese government. The spokesman added that Spain and the Netherlands were evaluating the situation and that Germany could yet participate.