Treatment of migrants is ‘true indicator’ of society’s appraisal of human rights

President praises crucial role of human rights NGOs in in putting pressure and engaging in advocacy so that necessary changes are made

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca. Photo: Omar Camilleri
Marie Louise Coleiro Preca. Photo: Omar Camilleri

President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca has praised the role of civil society in bringing to the fore the issue of migration, calling it “a true indicator” of the state of human rights today for both Maltese and European entities.

Addressing the launch of the first annual report by the Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Valletta, Coleiro Preca praised NGOs for their critical, unbiased sounding of the human rights situation in Malta.

‘The tragic loss of life; the disregard of untold hardship; abuse; passivity and inaction; arbitrary detention; exclusionary migration policies are just a few elements that must underpin any evaluation of human rights, because these are part of the biggest human rights challenge we have in Malta today,” Coleiro Preca said.

 “We are witnessing a systematic destruction of human rights at the expense of hundreds of lives. Migration has dominated the headlines of newspapers and media over the last couple of weeks as reports of tragedies came in one after the other.”

She said that leaders had been warned that these tragedies will persist unless a holistic approach to migration is adopted.

“To avert more tragedies in the Mediterranean, we must act decisively and innovatively. The nature of these tragedies warrants a more comprehensive response at an international level,” she said, echoing a previous speech she made at the opening of the new parliament building at City Gate, in Valletta.

“To date, the response has been poor and limited. The international community must be more courageous and more willing to address this situation as a human rights issue.”

She also called for an education for people about their rights and provide easy access on where to resort for help and support, in ways that are easily understood. “If we want children to understand their rights, we need to speak in a child appropriate language. If we want asylum seekers to understand their rights, we want our messages to be in a language they can comprehend.”

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