In your round-up of the European Union news over the summer, you referred last week to an incident in which, according to your article, 102 migrants were turned away from Malta (“Migrant crisis”, 5-11 September) and stated that the European Commission had called on Malta to give the migrants “medical attention after conditions on the Greek-operated oil tanker that had picked them up became dangerous”.
The government of Malta would like to clarify that at no point during the incident was the health and safety of the persons saved at sea by the MT Salamis (the vessel which rescued the persons) put at risk. In full accordance with Malta’s international obligations, the Armed Forces of Malta dispatched medics on board the ship to ascertain the medical conditions of these persons.
It was established that there was no emergency on the MT Salamis. The Armed Forces of Malta also provided them with food and water.
Malta also stresses that the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC), Rome, which co-ordinated the rescue, gave clear instructions to the captain of the MT Salamis to re-route his vessel to Khoms, Libya, which was just 45 nautical miles from the point at which the rescue was effected. These instructions were ignored by the captain, who opted to maintain his planned route to Malta (140 nautical miles away), thus placing commercial interests above legal and humanitarian obligations. In keeping with international law, the MT Salamis was obliged to take the rescued persons to Khoms, which was the nearest port, as instructed by MRCC Rome.
Allowing the vessel to enter Maltese waters would have created a dangerous precedent that would have undermined international maritime law by allowing vessels to put commercial interests above those of persons rescued at sea and international legal obligations.
Permanent representation of Malta to the EU
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