Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Malta Threatens To Withdraw From Frontex

An interesting rift has sprung up between Malta and the rest of the EU over new Frontex draft operational guidelines and may even refuse to participate in Frontex operations. The new guidelines that already allow for the refoulement of refugees (returning them to the country they left from), something that is already abundantly covered by numerous international treaties, state that if it is not possible to return migrants picked up by Frontex vessels to the country they left from, they must be sent to the country hosting the Frontex mission.

International maritime law stipulates that people rescued at sea must be taken to the nearest port, something that Maltese authorities would prefer to happen as Malta is a major host of Frontex operations and already believes that it bears too large a burden of Europe's clandestine migration. It has also had a long running battle with Italy over where migrants intercepted in each other's maritime rescue zones should be taken until Italy's recent deal with Libya to return intercepted boats to the African mainland. "We are not going to accept a situation where those rescued just off Lampedusa, for example, are going to be brought to Malta," Malta's Justice Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici told the German Press Agency dpa.

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