Human Rights Defenders Award on the 13th of April, crucial Court session on the 30th of May 2024

Coalition for the El Hiblu 3

At the end of last year, the Attorney General kept the accusation of “terrorism” in the bill of indictment against the El Hiblu 3 (see our Reports in Echoes No. 10). Subsequently, two initial court hearings took place in Valetta in March 2024. While taking into consideration the pleas of the prosecution and defense, a new judge must decide if and which charges she will admit for prosecution in a jury. One main argument by the lawyers is that all the accused offenses took place outside of the territorial waters of Malta and thus happened outside Maltese jurisdiction.

In December 2023, in a similar case in Greece, a court in Chania acquitted the accused refugees as all the alleged criminal offenses took place in international waters and thus outside Greek jurisdiction. And in a recent, ground-breaking decision the Italian Court of Cassation upheld the criminal conviction of a captain of a merchant vessel, who rescued 101 migrants and turned them over to Libya. Both court decisions should make clear that the charges against El Hiblu 3 have to be dropped immediately. There is no legal or moral basis to continue to prosecute the three young men.

The next court session will take place on May 30 in Valetta, where the judge has the chance to finally end this “travesty of justice” (Amnesty International) and the unbearable limbo that Abdalla, Amara and Kader are withstanding.

In the meantime, the Coalition for the El Hiblu 3 will celebrate the El Hiblu 3 as human rights defenders with an award ceremony on 13th of April 2024 in Valetta. During this celebration, the three will be praised in laudatory speeches from various civil society actors. They will be honoured for their engagement in helping to prevent an illegal push back in 2019 and for their endurance and patience over five long years to defy imprisonment, endless court sessions and the ongoing threat of conviction.


Picture: Coalition for the El Hiblu 3