Tag Archives: Malta

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.

Malta nominates Bird Hero 2018

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.”

 

Lifeline vessel docks in Malta

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.

Lifeline crew accused of piracy and human trafficking

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini warns about the arrest of the crew, and NGO vessel Lifeline transporting over two hundred illegal migrants from Libyan coasts to Italy, accusing them of piracy.

Formally Salvini is difficult to reproach. Acting within the international regulations,  Salvini orders stay in line with the UN frame document – the Law of Sea 1982, indicating that a  sovereign state is in its right to to establish and practise legislation over its aquatorium, similar way as over its territorium. The Law gives unequivocal powers to a state to fight illegal migration, and repel any vessel, suspected in migrant trafficking.

On contrary the Lifeline vessel has hardly any legitimacy after Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli accused it of “operating in Libyan waters outside all rules, outside international law” amid confusion over where the ship was de jure  registered.

This week the Netherlands denied reports that the Lifeline and another NGO-run migrant-rescue ship, the Seefuchs, are sailing under Dutch flags. “The Seefuchs and Lifeline are not sailing under Dutch flag as per UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) flag state responsibility,” the Netherlands representation at the EU said via Twitter.

In response Mission Lifeline confirmed in a tweet that its ship has been registered in the Netherlands since September 2017, attaching a photograph of the registration document to show it. It also said the rescue operation took place in international waters.

Amid clarifications Salvini informed that for “the safety of the crew and passengers Italy had asked Malta to open its ports for Lifeline vessel.

It is clear that the ship will then have to be impounded and the crew members arrested. No more trafficking by sea,” Salvini underlined.

Valletta accused the Lifeline crew of ignoring Italian instructions, and denied any responsibility for the mission, but made a gesture of goodwill, offering humanitarian supplies to illegal migrants.

EU laudits Spain for reception of migrant vessel

The EU Commissioner on Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos welcomed the decision of Spanish government to accept the vessel #Aquarius with 629 migrants on board transported from Libyan coasts to Italy.  The Italian and Maltese governments repelled #Aquarius, belonging to NGO, which is notorious for exercising the transportation of illegal African migrants to Europe, abusing maritime law of saving lives in seas, and is often dabbed as ‘migrant taxi service‘. Both EU member states – Italy and Malta – have been overwhelmed with migrants flows after the destruction of Libyan state, and have exhausted their capacity of offering shelter. The Spanish Socialist government, profiling itself as Eurocentric, came to rescue of the EU reputation in a gesture of solidarity to relieve the burden from Italy and Malta.

Meanwhile the new Interior Minister Matteo Salvini declared his victory over the EU, imposing respect of the international obligations towards the refugees, but unable to resolve the issue of illegal migrants flooding Italy. The Dublin system application hits hard the Mediterranean members of the bloc, namely Italy,  in vain calling for the EU solidarity in relocation of migrants.

“I am not a racist, I am not a fascist…but Italy cannot take it anymore. This is a new beginning – Salvini said at his press-conference, commenting on an international raw after the  repelling of #Aquarius from Italian coasts. Maltese Prime minister Joseph Muscat thanked Madrid for resolving the problem, however he underlined that a discussion is needed to avoid the repetition of the similar situations in the future.

During the stand off between Italy and Malta both rejecting #Aquarius,  there were reports from MSF about the migrants on the board becoming ‘anxious’ about the impossibility to reach Italian coasts. A man blackmailed the crew to drown himself in the sea, if the vessel returns to Libya. Sadly, many of the illegal migrants  arriving to Europe refer to the phenomenon as ‘migrant business‘, while experts confirm that nowadays in Africa ‘you are never further than two conversations away from a trafficker, ready to bring you to European coasts’.

Africa migrant map

 

#Aquarius: Spain accepts vessel with illegal migrants

Today the European Commission attempted to reduce the tensions around the notorious illegal migrants transport vessel #Aquarius repelled by Italian authorities, to a bilateral issue between Rome and Valletta. Spanish new Prime minister Pedro Sanchez stretched his had to Brussels, saving the EU image, while the solidarity between the member-states on illegal migrants issue is crumbling.

Within the #Aquarius context the were no calls for solidarity with the other EU member states to share the burden of illegal migration flows from Africa Italy suffers since the destruction of Libyan state, which destabilized the entire region. The Institution also declined any responsibility for the situation pointing at an absence of mandate to deal with the issue, belonging to the jurisdictions of the nation-states. It reduced  its intervention by launching an appeal to Italy to find a rapid humanitarian response.

The Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini passed to action, rejecting #Aquarius 629  illegal immigrants transported by from Libyan coasts. The decision came after a protracted period of attempts of Italian successive governments to resolve the issue through European solidarity, relocating the migrants, which failed to function. Matteo Salvini, the Interior minister, firmly rejected to follow the line of his predesessor, letting Italy to become one giant ‘European migrant camp’.

“‘Italy has stopped bowing the head and to obey, this time there are those who say NO” – Salvini tweeted, pointing that there is already another NGO ship ‘Sea Watch 3’ under Dutch flag, run by a German NGO, off the coast of Libya to carry another load of immigrants to Italy.

According  the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982) a state is in is right to establish and practice ‘legislative jurisdiction’  in its sea aquatorium, including to fight the illegal migration (article 19), and also to reject a vessel if there is a suspicion that the passage is ‘not peaceful’ (article 25), which gives Italy additional grounds to reject illegal migrants on suspicion of infiltration of terrorists of Al-Qaeda, Islamic State, and the other terrorist groups, active in Maghrib.

 

 

 

EASO invites heads of unit for Greece and Italy

While Malta-based European Asylum Support office (EASO) continues its passages through challenging times, it attempts to strengthen its ranks under newly appointed interim director Jamil Addou, opening positions for a Head of the unit for Greece and Italy.  Two new executives are supposed to ensure “tailor-made assistance, capacity building, relocation, specific support and special quality control tools” to the corresponding countries.

This month Management Board of EASO, which is the governing body of the Agency,  has released the Executive Director, Mr. José Carreira, from his duties with immediate effect, following his resignation of 6 June. The Management Board has equally decided that Mr. Jamil Addou, Head of Unit in EASO since 2016, becomes the interim Executive Director, until a new Executive Director is appointed.

Mr. Carreira resigned amid allegations of staff harassment, including “psychological violence” and under the investigation by the bloc’s anti-fraud office OLAF, – POLITICO newspaper reported. The investigation by OLAF  into alleged misconduct in procurement procedures, irregularities in management of human resources and possible breaches of data protection at the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), headed by José Carreira has been conducted since January this year, the newspaper claimed.

The Launch of the EASO Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the EU 18 June 2018, Brussels, Belgium.

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