The government’s decision to consider sending migrants back to Libya has exacerbated the prevailing situation of discrimination towards migrants, the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) said.

The NCPE said it was “seriously concerned” that the arrival of irregular migrants in Malta and the advocating of a push-back policy to deal with the influx of irregular migrants “exacerbate the prevailing situation of discrimination towards migrants departing from Africa through a policy which is intrinsically discriminatory particularly in respect to the right to life and safety for all.

In a statement issued this morning, the commission said: “The NCPE believes that just as the Government has been a promoter of positive changes in matters relating to other grounds of discrimination, such as sexual orientation, its policies in relation to migration should be equally sensitive.”

The phenomenon of irregular migration policies that address irregular migration should also reflect an unwavering commitment towards the respect and upholding of the fundamental rights and intrinsic human dignity of every human being irrespective of race or ethnicity, the commission added.

“It is the firm view of NCPE that any decisions taken to tackle the issue of irregular migration should not include any push back measures.”

The NCPE said it would continue to support and promote initiatives undertaken by the government to combat discrimination on the grounds of race, although it added that “more work was needed in this regard, particularly in challenging mentalities that disregarded the human dignity of every person, as well as the fundamental human rights of all individuals.”

Reminding that these rights include the right to life and to be safeguarded against all threats, the commission encouraged the Government to take positive measures to counter expressions of racial hatred that manifested themselves, particularly on blogs and online newspapers.