With important events abound in Malta for November 2015, Malta’s government declares its addition of defence assets to support Malta’s security operation for the Valletta Summit on Migration and the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM).
According to the Maltese Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
“There are no known specific threats for these events and these measures are precautionary.”
The Ministry said the agreement signified the “enduring ties and shared interests as members of the EU” for both UK and Malta.
What Is the Valletta Summit and CHOGM 2015?
The Valletta Summit
With an unexpected number of migrants persecuted or fleeing from war in Africa and the Middle East, the EU has chosen to confront the numbers and take in the refugees with an integrated and co-operative system.
The Valletta Summit on Migration to be held on November this year will address the migration flow challenges, urging governments of the world to collaborate and create efforts to overcome the challenges mass migration, religious persecution and even climate change brings.”
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
Before the Paris Summit would be the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The CHOGM would discuss issues on democracy, human rights, good governance, free trade, global development and world peace. The CHOGM is held every two years.
UK and Malta Relations
Malta was once a British colony in history. In the 50s and 60s, Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom and occasionally, the two countries are not economically linked or collaborating.
With the upcoming international events to be held in Malta, the United Kingdom steps up its support for security for its own personnel.
In the wake of the hacking of dating service provider Ashley Madison, a data dump revealed ex-Tory MP Damian Green registering himself in the service provider’s website. The former Minister for Police and Criminal Justice denied ever using the website. He denied the AOL address he used to create the account.
The MP, married, said: “I don’t know anything about this. It’s nothing to do with me.” He added, “I have never registered for an account with Ashley Madison.”
“I don’t know who has used this account. I’ve had so many email accounts over the years. I may have had an aol address many years ago,” said Green.
Investigators found the birth date used in the Ashley Madison account is three years after the MP was born. However, the security question contradicted the earlier evidence as it uses Green’s mother’s maiden name Lyons as a security question.
The Impact Team, which breached Ashley Madison’s servers and website in July, had dumped the details of 36 million fling-seeker, where 1.2 million are British nationals. The database contains 100 people using .gov.uk and .police.uk addresses to sign up for Ashley Madison accounts. Some related to the US government and military had also signed up for the service.
Private sector addresses from IBM, HP, Cisco, Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Samsung and Qualcomm were also found in the hacking database.
Ireland donates its recently-decommissioned LE Aoife to the Maltese armed forces. Its role will be to assist in the Mediterranean refugee rescues. In exchange, the Maltese armed forces must cooperate with Ireland in military exercises and handling defence matters.
The transfer of LE Aoife from the Irish Naval Service would also include personnel training. Maltese military personnel will be sent to Ireland to attend a joint training mission
Ireland Minister for Defence Simon Coveney and Malta Minister For Home Affairs and National Security Carmelo Abela attended a meeting of EU defence ministers in Riga. They agreed to cooperate more closely with each other.
Coveney explained that Malta needed a new ship to assist in the patrolling of the Mediterranean Sea.
“Recent tragic events in that part of the Mediterranean have underlined the significant challenges which need to be addressed by the international community and Ireland is very keen to play an active part in this regard,” Mr Coveney said.
“The refugee crisis represents a significant challenge for the EU and that while Ireland was not in the front line of the response to the crisis we were pleased to be in a position to support the response in this manner,” he added.
According to the Swedish Minister for Integration Erik Ullenhag, Malta is the benchmark of how governments should implement LGBTI rights. He said “Ten years ago, Malta and Sweden differed substantially on LGBTI issues and civil rights. Now we’re on the same line of thought.”
Malta had a negative record regarding respect for the rights of LGBTI individuals in the past, according to Maltese Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli. She called for better treatment of LGBTI individuals, and Ullenhag notes her role in the social changes in Malta.
This year, Malta played host for the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) in Valleta.
Dalli admitted that Malta was “oceans apart” in terms of acknowledging the rights of LGBTI individuals. She was the first representative to the first IDAHO meeting in the Netherlands, which surprised other nations because of Malta’s presence.
Dalli said that Malta may not be the pioneer or the “top of its class” for LGBTI rights, but it believes in the individuals and open-mindedness against prejudice. Other countries highlighted Malta’s efforts to use a more liberal view of LGBTI rights and urged the Civil Liberties Minister to send a message to other conservative governments.
According to Dalli, Malta’s hard work and its recognition by other countries is satisfying. However, she said Malta is not championing the rights of LGBTI, but merely being fair and equal to every person regardless of their sexuality.
Maltatoday.com has compiled a list of accomplishments and disappointments of the Muscat government in the previous year. The list shows how the government had delivered its goals to the people and how some controversies got in the way of good governance.
According to the Maltatoday writer James Debono, Maltese President Joseph Muscat had delivered on his promises for the Maltese people, including abolishing prescription in corruption cases, signing a Whistleblower Act and the defense of the LGBT community in Malta.
Muscat’s government had also reduced the prices of electricity and introduced free childcare through the effective use of taxes.
However, it also has some shortcomings of its own. Muscat’s government shows signs of inexperience when interacting with the media due to its great number of gaffes. It had also tried to return migrants to Libya despite the action being illegal. The Muscat government had a great number of international embarrassments, such as trying to “sell” the European Citizenship for a high price and untoward insults in social media and the internet.
Overall, the government was well-balanced despite questionable anti-corruption practices regarding the bribery of several Enemalta officials and their amnesty regarding the construction of a bridge. The deliverables and results of proper management had reaped its benefits effectively for Muscat’s Malta.
Malta asks other European countries for support as it tries to manage the increase of irregular immigrants reaching the shores of Italy and the country. According to the Malta independent, data included in the European Refugee Fund Annual Programme approved by the European Commission, the country received 1294 total irregular immigrants in July 2013.
Malta’s first issue had been burden sharing. Malta had taken care of the pressure of migration on its own. Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had also noted in his statement to the EU that Greece and Italy are facing similar problems regarding migration.
In the previous week, Maltese and Italian coastal authorities had rescued 233 migrants with some originating from Pakistan and Africa from an overcrowded and unseaworthy boat.
Malta’s government is asking for the setup of a Mediterranean Task Force to approach the problem in a unified and integral manner. The task force was set up in October in the aftermath of the 300-passenger smuggling boat that sunk near the coast of Italy.
Illegal immigrants and human smugglers see Malta as an easy access point for unauthorized entry into Europe. However, these migrants risk expulsion by both Malta and Italy. Both countries, including Greece, are providing for the needs and welfare of the migrants arriving into the country as they wait for the decision to their expulsion or retainment.
Two private investigators said that the real bomber behind the 1988 Lockerbie air disaster travelled to Malta before initiating the attack. The investigators noted that Egyptian terrorist Mohammed Abu Taib was behind the attacks and was the one to plant the bomb on the Heathrow plane by bribing na official.
The Lockerbie disaster is considered one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in history. On Saturday, it will be reaching its 25th anniversary.
Right after the Pan Am Flight 103 attack, Libyan national Abdelbaset Al-Megrahl was the only person convicted for the attack. Taib was also arrested in 1989 because he had connections with the bombing.
The connection of Taib to the bombing was discovered by the Swedish secret service, who discovered that he had gone to Malta to meet with a probable Palestinian Terrorist organisation situated in the country.
Megrahl had died in 2012, given a life sentence, the court gave him an early release after eight years for compassion as he had terminal cancer.
The new evidence was submitted to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, who had also concluded that Megrahl suffered a miscarriage of justice for his sentence.
Investigators in Malta, before the attack, had already followed Taib’s movements, but failed to produce results given the lack of evidence.
Hundreds of Syrian refugees were left to drown in the Mediterranean Sea after pirates sunk their boat in failing to pay for passage. According to the refugees, Libyan traffickers left them to drown to their deaths off the coast of Malta after a dispute regarding the payment fees for their passage to Europe this month.
Maltese authorities found the survivors off 160km from Malta’s coast. It is estimated that 400 people were on board the fish boat that left from Libya on October 10 this year.
Survivors said that many people, including women and children, drowned and died in the sea. They estimate that from their unspecified original number that 200 people drowned after they were dumped at sea.
The Syrian civil war had left around two million Syrians displaced from their war-torn country. Neighbouring countries Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are swelling in numbers as the countries try to house all refugees staying in the country as the civil war wages on.
Refugees in Turkey are currently struggling under the attack of both Syrian regime forces and Islamic fighters linked to the al-Qaeda.
The three countries have brought world attention to the humanitarian conditions of the Syrian refugees in their respective countries. They also explained how their presence is affecting the economies and capabilities each country has during the previous UN General Assembly. The three countries had called on the entire world to help shoulder the burden.
Malta’s government refused to accept the 102 migrants who were rescued from a dinghy and left Italy to take in the migrants. Despite EU pressure, Malta’s refusal raised questions of morality and human rights from different organisations.
The survivors escaped from a Salamis oil tanker that was 80 km off the Libyan coast. Malta said that the Salamis tanker was heading for Syracuse in Italy. Malta said that the Italian authorities welcomed the Migrants aboard Salamis and diplomatic contracts between Malta, Italy and Greece were perfectly followed.
However, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat became controversial with his approach to the Salamis incident. Muscat formally announced that the government considered expelling the migrants to avoid EU pressure and “send a message” that Malta is a country with its own sovereignty and capability to make its own decisions.
The EU Affairs Commission said that it was Malta’s “humanitarian duty” in such a situation and their delay had almost breached international law. However, Muscat said that the country fulfilled its international obligations and said in a statement that it will not “intervene for irresponsible boat owners who break laws for their commercial activities”.
The Salamis tanker was heading to Malta with a shipment of oil. Most of the tankers coming from Africa and Libya are vessels operated by traffickers to get to Europe.