AD calls on Libya’s national council to ratify Geneva Convention

Alternattiva Demokratika has called on Libya to ratify the Geneva Convention and accept back UNHCR on its soil in a bid to give rights to refugees.

Addressing a press conference in front of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, AD reiterated its support towards the Libyan National Transition Council and called for Libya’s new leaders to ratify the Geneva Convention and protect refugees and asylum seekers in the country.

AD criticised the Maltese government for accepting the Libyan pushbacks and condemned the EU for financing Gaddafi’s government in the past over immigration.

AD’s spokesman for migration Robert Callus said Malta’s government, with Labour’s support should stop turning a blind eye on human rights abuses. AD, he said, always condemned government’s decision to agree with Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi’s invitation to give extortion money to Gaddafi for keeping immigrants in inhumane conditions.

“Malta should now exert necessary pressure for a humane immigration process in partnership with the EU, free from blackmail,” Callus said.

“With regards to Libya, it is also imperative that Malta actively supports the UNHCR so that it can be allowed back in Libya and work in a safe environment.”

AD chairperson Michael Briguglio said the Libya conflict is an example of how Malta needs to rethink aspects of its foreign policy, especially on human rights and social and environmental justice.

“The Libyan experience should serve as an eye opener with regards to the servilism of the Nationalists and Labourites towards brutal regimes,” Briguglio said. “Labour in particular did not pronounce a word of condemnation against Gaddafi before his downfall.”

He said that whilst the Gaddafi regime refused to sign the Geneva Convention and showed blatant disregard toward global norms regarding human rights, governments saw no problem in having a privileged partnership with Libya.

“Whilst AD and other NGOs frequently voiced their concern about the brutality of the Gaddafi regime, others frequently boasted of their good relationship with the dictator,” Briguglio said.

“Now is the time for a rethink of Malta’s foreign policy, especially in relation to areas such as human rights, democracy, environment, peace and economic affairs.”

Government should also support calls for solidarity with democratic forces of opposition to such regimes, he added.

AD’s general secretary Ralph Cassar said an ethical foreign policy demands that trade respects human rights, social justice and environmental justice.

“The Maltese government should take a more pro-active role on issues such as nuclear energy on our doorstep,” Cassar said referring to the nuclear talks between Libya and France.

“In the recent past, both Government and Opposition remained silent on dangerous deals by Sarkozy and Berlusconi to sell nuclear technology to Gaddafi.”

In comments to MaltaToday, Briguglio also said that it is high time that Malta revisited its constitution to revise the neutrality clause, wording and adapt it to the current era.

“For example, neutrality doesn’t mean not do anything but it means being autonomous in taking a stand,” he said, adding that the wording in the constitution reflects the Cold War era.

Speaking on Malta’s possibility to drill for oil, Briguglio said that Malta had all the right to do, but it should not be viewed only from the economic aspect: “Studies [Dutch Disease] show that digging for oil increases the chances of a corrupt government and therefore such activities should be regulated by legislation, and social and democratic norms. Also, the environment should be respected.”