Malta's government is facing legal action over alleged rights abuses. Migrants say Maltese authorities left them stranded at sea before ordering their return to Libya in a fishing boat.
50 migrants, as well as relatives of two men who died at sea during a rescue operation coordinated by Malta, have filed charges against Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela, Interior Minister Byron Camilleri and the army chief Jeffrey Curmi for violating the Maltese constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.
The plaintiffs are supported by the Maltese civil rights organization Repubblika. In April this year they were among a group of migrants on a boat that was sighted by Frontex, the European border agency, in the Maltese search and rescue zone.
Three days later, on April 14, the Maltese authorities sent the fishing boat "Dar al Salam" to collect the migrants. By that time, several people had died, according to Repubblika. 50 of the survivors were then allegedly returned on the Dar al Salam to Libya, where they were taken to camps and subjected to abuse and inhumane treatment.
According to Malta Independent, the applicants claim that Dar al Salam acted on behalf of the Maltese government. They asked the court to declare that Malta violated the right to life of the migrants and breached its obligations under European law to consider asylum applications.
A separate magisterial inquiry in May found that Malta had followed its international obligations and said there was no evidence linking the prime minister or the army chief to the incident.
Italian human rights activists also took a case to court in July claiming that Italy was complicit in the pushback and in breach of international law.
With KNA, Malta Independent