Statement - Do They Know? Asylum Seekers testify to life in Libya

Do They Know?

STATEMENT BY JESUIT REFUGEE SERVICE MALTA

Verżjoni bil-Malti iktar ’l isfel

“Does the international community know about this, what is happening here? This is what we used to ask each
other when we were in prison in Libya.” 
  Asad, an asylum seeker in Malta

Since May 2009, some 1409 migrants, attempting to reach a place where they could obtain protection or
the possibility to live in safety and dignity, were pushed back to Libya.

These actions were widely criticised and held by many to be a violation of international law, as Libya does
not have the mechanisms in place to grant protection to those who need it and there is evidence that
those returned would be at risk of harm.

“International Migrants Day is a good time to ask ourselves whether we are fully aware of the possible
consequences of these actions for the people concerned. We believe that many who see this as a quick
solution to the pressures that Malta is facing would think differently if they knew about the treatment
that migrants face there,” 
said JRS Malta Director, Fr Joseph Cassar SJ.

Do They Know? is a collection of testimonies from asylum seekers who were granted protection in Malta,
highlighting their experiences of life there. Published by JRS Malta to coincide with International Migrants
Day, which is marked today, the testimonies reveal unthinkable hardship many migrants face in Libya,
which is almost an obligatory transit country for sub-Saharan Africans fleeing widespread violence and
human rights violations in their countries of origin.

JRS Malta believes that returning migrants to Libya, where they cannot obtain effective protection if they
need it and where they face a real risk of serious harm, violates international law. We therefore call upon
the government to:

• Ensure that all asylum seekers within Malta’s effective jurisdiction are allowed to apply for
  protection.

• Rescue migrants intercepted by the AFM if they have requested assistance, as otherwise their
  safety cannot be guaranteed

• Ensure that all those rescued within Malta’s Search and Rescue Area are disembarked at a safe
  port, where those in search of protection can seek asylum

• Refrain from actions that will result, directly or indirectly, in the return of migrants to a country
  where they risk suffering serious violations of their fundamental human rights.

“While it is true that migrant boat people attempting the south-north crossing of the Mediterranean are
not all necessarily fleeing persecution,” 
Fr Cassar said, “this does not justify returning anyone to a country
where her/his life might be seriously at risk. Malta has an obligation to ensure that the rights of all
migrants within its effective jurisdiction are protected, regardless of their legal status.”
 He also recalled
that more than 50% of asylum seekers reaching Malta and Italy last year were granted some form of
protection.

Do They Know? is also available online PDF doc

Drawing on the reserve of kindness that many people demonstrate, JRS Malta added that “No
authentically human attitude would be insensitive to the immense suffering many of our interviewees
have experienced or witnessed,” and concluded “Surely, many more people would think differently, if
they knew...”


STQARRIJA MILL- JRS MALTA


“Il-komunita internazzjonali taf b’dan, x’qiegħed jiġri hawn? Hekk konna nistaqsu lilna nfusna meta
konna fil-ħabs il-Libja.”
   Asad, raġel li qed ifittex l-asil f’Malta

Minn Mejju 2009, xi 1409 migrant li kienu qed jippruvaw jaslu x’imkien fejn setgħu jiksbu l-protezzjoni
jew il-possibilita li jghixu fis-sigurta u d-dinjita, reġgħu ttieħdu lura l-Libja.

Dawn l-azzjonijiet ġibdu kritika qawwija u kienu meqjusa minn ħafna bħala vjolazzjoni tal-liġi
internazzjonali, minħabba li l-Libja m’għandhiex il-mekkaniżmi meħtieġa biex tagħti l-protezzjoni li dawk li
jeħtiġuha u hemm evidenza li dawk li jintbagħtu lura jistgħu jġarrbu l-moħqrija.

“Il-Jum Internazzjonali tal-Migranti huwa mument tajjeb biex nistaqsu lilna nfusna jekk nafux tassew
x’inhuma l-konsegwenzi ta’ dawn l-azzjonijiet għan-nies ikkonċernati. Aħna nemmnu li ħafna minn dawk li
jaraw dan bħala mezz biex malajr insibu tarf tal-problemi li Malta qiegħed tħabbat wiċċha magħhom
jaħsbuha mod ieħor kieku kellhom jafu minn xiex jgħaddu l-migranti hemmhekk,”
 qal id-Direttur tas-
Servizz tal-Ġiżwiti mar-Refuġjati (JRS Malta), Fr Joseph Cassar SJ.

Do They Know? huwa ġabra ta’ testimonjanzi minn nies li kienu qed ifittxu l-asil u ngħataw il-protezzjoni
f’Malta, u juri l-esperjenzi tal-ħajja fil-Libja. Maħruġ mill-JRS Malta fl-okkażjoni tal-Jum Internazzjonali tal-
Migranti, li jaħbat illum, it-testimonjanzi juru t-tbatija li ma nobsruhiex li l-migranti jgħaddu minnha fil-
Libja, li huwa kważi pajjiż ta’ transitu obbligatorju għal persuni Afrikani li qed jaħarbu vjolenza mifruxa u
vjolazzjonijiet tad-drittijiet tal-bniedem fil-pajjiżi tal-oriġini tagħhom ’l isfel mis-Sahara.

Is-Servizz tal-Ġiżwiti mar-Refuġjati jemmen li r-ritorn forzat tal-migranti lejn il-Libja, fejn ma jistgħux
jiksbu protezzjoni effettiva jekk jeħtiġuha u fejn isibu ruħhom f’riskju ta’ ħsara għalihom, hija vjolazzjoni
tal-liġi internazzjonali. Għaldaqstant, nitolbu lill-gvern li:

• Jiżgura li l-persuni kollha li jfittxu l-asil fil-ġurisdizzjoni effettiva ta’ Malta jitħallew japplikaw għall protezzjoni

• Jsalva lill-immigranti interċettati mill-FAM jekk ikunu talbu l-għajnuna, għax b’mod ieħor issigurta
   tagħhom ma tkunx garantita

• Jqis li dawk kollha salvati fiż-żona ta’ salvataġġ (SAR) ta’ Malta jitniżżlu f’port salv, fejn dawk li
   jeħtieġu l-protezzjoni jistgħu jitolbu l-asil

• Joqgħod lura minn azzjonijiet li jirriżultaw, direttament jew indirettament, fir-ritorn talimmigranti
  lejn pajjiż fejn ikunu f’riskju ta’ vjolazzjonijiet serji tad-drittijiet fundamentali tagħhom.

“Filwaqt li mhux l-immigranti kollha li jippruvaw jaqsmu l-Mediterran mill-Afrika għall-Ewropa bilfors
jeħtieġu l-protezzjoni,”
 qal Fr Cassar, “dan ma jiġġustifikax li xi ħadd jista’ jintbagħat lura f’pajjiż fejn ħajtu
tista’ tkun f’periklu serju. Malta għandha obbligu li tiżgura li d-drittijiet tal-migranti kollha fil-ġurisdizzjoni
effettiva tagħha qed jitħarsu, irrispettivament mill-istatus legali tagħhom.”
 Huwa fakkar li iktar minn 50%
minn dawk li talbu l-asil f’Malta u l-Italja s-sena li għaddiet kienu mogħtija xi forma ta’ protezzjoni.

Do They Know? jinsab fuq l-internet  PDF doc

Huwa u jqis it-tjubija li għandhom ħafna nies, is-Servizz tal-Ġiżwiti mar-Refuġjati żied li “L-ebda attitudni
awtentikament umana m’hi se tagħlaq għajnejha għat-tbatija bla qies li ġarrbu jew raw ħafna minn dawk
li tkellimna magħhom,” u temm jgħid “Żgur li ħafna nies jibdew jaħsbuha mod ieħor, kieku kellhom ħjiel...”

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