Unfortunately, even though migration is not a new phenomenon and human beings have been forging new routes and seeking out new spaces to explore, to survive, to live, since the beginning of time, for some, this theme has never been so short changed in terms of compassionate political decision making. Understandably, this phenomenon is unpredictable at times, multifaceted and complex and migration brings new challenges and also opportunities.
The Faculty notes with regret the recent media reports that the Government intends to revoke the status of THP-n, thereby stripping persons who have been living in Malta for a number of years, from their basic human rights. The introduction of THP-n represented a necessary step forward in migration reform in Malta. This status acknowledged the presence of a number of documented migrants residing in Malta who, due to circumstances beyond their control, could not return to their country of origin. Up until its introduction, a cluster of migrants were denied access to basic human rights and any legitimate means of survival. The provision of THP-n provided these individuals and their families access to rights, a level of security and more importantly a regularized status.
This policy decision will force an unacceptable and deplorable situation on migrants living in a ‘tolerated’ state. The implications of this decision go beyond the migrant community. Living in conditions of protracted limbo, pending deportation, these individuals are forced to accept exploitative employment conditions: a scenario that puts pressure on wages, particularly at the bottom end of the labour market, and represents a lose-lose situation for all workers, even the local ones. Let’s face it, only corrupt employers may benefit from the presence of a legally precarious, exploitable labour force.
What the Faculty would like to note is that tolerating or actively supporting a situation wherein the basic human rights of any individual are denied represents a dangerous precedent for us all.
The Faculty appeals for common sense and decency first and foremost grounded in ethical pronouncements.
It is unacceptable that in justifying matters on legal procedures we veto the humane, benevolent and charitable roots of what makes our Nation. Our credibility should not be measured on how strong we are with the weak but how bold we are with the controlling. Now that Malta is to assume the EU council Presidency it will be a window of opportunity for the Maltese Government to take a leading role on basic moral grounds we all agree on. This is the time when the much-needed reform in this sector can take place.
The Faculty is convinced that Malta within this current political scenario and the responsibilities it will be assuming next year can show its mettle.
The Faculty appeals to all political parties to remain on the right side of history and do the morally justified judgements.
Dr Andrew Azzopardi
Dean, Faculty for Social Wellbeing
University of Malta