Former prison boss Alex Dalli part of migration coordination centre with Libya

Former prison boss Alex Dalli now handling migration control efforts as part of a joint Malta-Libya centre, Byron Camilleri confirms • Minister insists Malta has always observed its international obligations

Former prison director Col. Alex Dalli
Former prison director Col. Alex Dalli

Former prison director Alex Dalli is now part of the team handling coordination efforts between Malta and Libya, to combat illegal immigration, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri revelead on Thursday.

Dalli, a retired army officer, had suspended himself from the prison role in November, following the third inmate suicide of the year and the 14th death in prison during his tenure. Red Cross chief Robert Brincau has since been appointed prison CEO.

“Alex Dalli has vast experience in the armed forces of Malta,” Camilleri said on Thursday when asked whether Dalli was given an alternative posting.

As part of the efforts by the Maltese and Libyan governments to stem migration from the north African state, coordination centres were set up in Tripoli and Valletta in July 2020.

The Valletta centre is manned by two officials appointed by the Maltese government and one by the Libyan government of National Accord. The Tripoli centre is administered by two Libyan officials, and one Maltese official.

'Malta cannot be the solution for all of Africa's problems'

When questioned by MaltaToday about recent cases of migrants rescued in Malta's search and rescue zone by NGOs and claims that Malta failed in its obligation to coordinate the rescues and disembarkations, Camilleri insisted that Malta has always observed its international obligations.

"Illegal migration has been a challenge for Malta for the past 20 years... We will not be an accomplice with human traffickers. The critique by various NGOs in this regard has been unjust, as there are those who think Malta could be a solution for all of the problems in Africa,” Camilleri said. "Malta is doing its part but we insisted that the disembarkations should also occur in other European countries. A disproportionate weight was shifted onto Malta in recent years."

Over 200 people were rescued by NGO vessel Sea-Eye 4, in the Maltese search and rescue zone between 16 and 17 December. Maltese authorities had denied entry to the people on board, and they eventually disembarked in Sicily on Christmas eve.

The rescues took place in the Maltese search and rescue zone, but the Maltese Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre did not respond or coordinate these cases, according to the NGO. Sea-Eye had accused Malta of violating its international obligation to rescue people at sea.

Subsequently, other rescue efforts saw hundreds of migrants being rescued and disembarking in Sicily.