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Migrant Charities Call On Maltese Authorities To Drop Terrorism Charges Against El Hiblu Teens

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The Maltese authorities have again been urged by migrant groups to drop charges brought against three youths currently charged with terrorism in Malta’s courts. 

“Then aged 15, 16 and 19, the three youths were part of a group of over 100 men, women and children who were rescued by cargo ship El Hiblu 1 on 26 March 2019. The rescue was coordinated by an EU naval operation that ordered the ship to take the rescued persons back to Libya,” the Migrants Commission, Jesuit Refugee Services and Justice and Peace Commission said in a joint statement today. 

“This led migrants to protest their return to Libya and the ship was eventually allowed to dock in Malta – two years on 28 March 2019. Upon landing in Malta, the three youths who had acted as translators for the crew were charged with terrorism and hijack of the vessel.” 

The groups noted that if found guilty, the three youths could face life imprisonment. 

“This takes their desperate actions out of the dramatic context within which they occurred. We believe that it is a travesty of justice to prosecute anyone who is resisting return to a country where there is a real risk that they will be locked up in life-threatening conditions.”

They added migrants in Libya had been imprisoned, denied access to medical care, and have most likely faced beatings, rape, extortion and other serious human rights abuses. 

“We are all responsible if we stand by silently in the face of this injustice. So, on the second anniversary of their arrival in Malta, we remind the government of the advice of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, to reconsider these disproportionate terrorism charges. And we join our voices to the many civil society organisations who have spoken up in support of the three youths and urge the government to drop the charges against them.”

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