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MT 8 May 2016

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maltatoday, SUNDAY, 8 MAY 2016 26 Letters THE report on Malta's transposition of a European directive allowing asylum seek- ers the right to work is expected in June, although Malta's level of adherence is as yet unclear. Malta's level of transposition was severe- ly criticised by MEPs from the civil liber- ties committee, who visited the island's detention centres for asylum seekers back in March. An infringement procedure against Mal- ta was only closed by the European Com- mission after Malta signalled its intention to transpose the directive, months after the law had to come into force in Febru- ary 2005. According to MEP Giusto Catania's re- port, Malta was still failing in its trans- position of almost half of the directive's articles concerning reception standards, which include the right to employment and information on their status. During the visit, the delegation said it was "particularly struck by the hardship in the detention centres", and called upon the Maltese government to significantly reduce the periods of detention, which at present is 18 months. The report is being drafted by Prof. Henry Frendo, one of the assistant com- missioners on the Refugee Appeals Board, who was appointed by the academic net- work Odysseus, a Brussels organisation entrusted by the European Commission to prepare the study on transposition. Directive 2003/9, laying down minimum reception standards for asylum seekers, obliges member states to give asylum seekers access to the labour market at least within 12 months after applying for refu- gee status. They also have to be given ac- cess to vocational training after applying. Malta officially transposed the directive on 22 November 2005 by legal notice, nine months after the directive was expected to come into force in February. An infringement procedure opened by the Commission was later closed after Malta informed Brussels in September 2005 that it would transpose the directive. "This however does not mean the Com- mission considers the transposition by Malta as substantially and automatically to be a correct one," a spokesperson for Commissioner Franco Frattini said. "It formally means that we consider they ful- filled their obligation flowing from the di- rective, that is informing the Commission about the transposition measures." That is why Malta's transposition of the directive is still attracting criticism, more than a year after it should have been im- plemented. MEP Patrick Gaubert said it was clear that Malta was not adhering to the provisions of Directive 2003/9, during last March's visit by the European Parlia- ment's committee. Malta was invited to two meetings on the directive by the Commission in order to assist in the transposition of the law. A meeting with the director-general of the Justice and Home Affairs directorate Jonathan Faull was last held in April 2006. "During all these meetings concern was expressed about the situation of asylum seekers in Malta, and the Commission's readiness to financially assist Malta in order to cope with its special situation through already existing financial instru- ments was expressed," spokesperson Friso Roscam Abbing told MaltaToday. Apart from allowing asylum seekers ac- cess to the labour market, the directive al- lows the state to ask asylum seekers who are granted the right to work to contribute towards the costs of their material recep- tion or healthcare, if they are sufficiently able to do so. They will keep their right to work even if they are appealing an unsuccessful ap- plication for protection, until the appeals process is finalised. In the report by the European Parlia- ment's civil liberties committee, Giusto Catania said Malta appears to have in- fringed asylum seekers' right not to have their "unalienable sphere of private life" affected due to the conditions in deten- tion centres. Catania said that another article, which says asylum seekers should be housed "in accommodation centres which guarantee an adequate standard of living", appears to have been infringed. Reception of asylum seekers still under Brussels monitor Send your letters to: The Editor, MaltaToday, MediaToday Ltd. Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 9016 | Fax: (356) 21 385075 E-mail: Letters to the Editor should be concise. No pen names are accepted. Harmless firearm should be returned Most incredible, but absolutely true to the very last word, in a seemingly unusual saga, is that a fully licensed weapon in my name, which the Police Weapons Office in Floriana registered and posted to me on 4 April in an officially printed licence/receipt, is the description: "Without No. Pistol. Single Barrel. Hammerless. Semi-automatic." Evidently, it was a most unwar- ranted and irregular confisca- tion on 7 January that followed a government social worker's interview with my wife, who suf- fers from acute dementia while I myself am also in a state of physical disability following two serious accidents that left me un- able to walk without proper steel walking-aids. When the 'report' was made by the social worker presumably at the St Julian's police station, my firearm should have been imme- diately declared 'harmless'. I am extremely upset having to receive several phone calls and emails from close friends, fellow Rotarians, and a number of former diplomats who have emphatically commented on this unexpected confiscation of a perfectly innocuous and fully licensed firearm belonging to an 85-year-old and licensed to 'purchase and keep firearms' ever since I was 18. I had collaborated loyally and efficiently at Castille during the 1970s and 1980s 'under extreme confidentiality' with the Malta Security Service. I am confident of receiving assistance from the superintendent of the St Julian's police district. John Louis Curmi Swieqi Meludia is a wonderful musical gift Music is a precious gift everyone can benefit from. It helps us grow as people, developing our minds and social lives whatever age we are. This is the belief which underpins Meludia, an exciting programme which the govern- ment is making freely available to everyone in Malta – local, expatriate or just visiting. Meludia Ambassador and world famous Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja has convinced the govern- ment of the enormous benefits of this easy to use programme, de- veloped for everybody regardless of whether they have no music knowledge or teaching or have progressed to an advanced level. Congratulations to Joseph and to Culture Minister Owen Bonnici and his team and to the Prime Minister for embracing this wonderful project which is now spreading around the world. Music literacy is a basic and necessary human right, no dif- ferent from the right to be able to speak, read or write. Meludia has developed over 600 units at different levels which can be used online and are both enormous fun and educational. Children can benefit through a simple process of listening and respond- ing to questions about whether the note has gone up or down or changed in other ways, giving them a "musical ear" before they start on instruments and seeing written notes on the page. Similarly adults who have always loved music or been frustrated that their inner Elvis or Mozart has never been able to express itself will find Meludia extraordinarily liberating and empowering. There are special tools for music teachers and non-music teachers to help them incorporate the ben- efits of Meludia into their every day work with students. Over 30 years of organizing live music at BJs and elsewhere I know how important music is in the life of us Maltese and how much as- tonishing natural talent we have on these islands. I am absolutely certain that Meludia will help us make more of the talents we have been given and make life more joyous for everyone. Philip Fenech Sliema Regulator's offshore funds' directorships I read with great interest your comment (1 May, 2016) about one of the situations currently causing embarrassment to Pro- fessor Joseph Bannister, MFSA chairman – namely his direc- torship of Cayman Island trusts. However there is a certain lack of clarity regarding one aspect of your report. Professor Bannister is quoted as retorting thus to comments by Evarist Bartolo, which lay claim to a serious conf lict of interest: "The issue was raised five years ago. Both the then Prime Minster and the Leader of the Opposition know the facts. I do not have a company in the Cayman Islands and neither do I have any funds in the Cayman." Firstly I note with interest that Professor Bannister does not deny his alleged directorships in the Cayman, and secondly that this response sounds remark- ably similar to the responses of Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schem- bri to the allegations over their involvement in Panama. Mike Turner Hamrun News 7 May, 2006

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