In Malta, three youths face life in prison for their roles in helping fellow asylum-seekers escape torture. Call for justice for The El Hiblu 3.

In March 2019, three African teenagers (aged 15, 16, 19) boarded a crowded rubber boat, fleeing Libya seeking what we all do: a safe, better life. Along with 108 people, they were rescued by a cargo ship, El Hiblu. 

The El Hiblur’s crew tried to return those rescued to Libya despite promising they wouldn’t. Amnesty International has documented widespread arbitrary detention, torture, rape and exploitation of people seeking asylum in Libya. 

The rescued people began to panic, horrified at the prospect of returning to the torture they had escaped.

Knowing he spoke English, the chief officer of the ship asked the 15-year-old boy “What can I do to get them to calm down?” The boy replied: “Don’t take us back to Libya”.

The ship turned around and set off for Malta. The three youths helped the chief officer by interpreting, calming the panicked passengers. But the media and politicians spun the story, accusing the three boys of ‘hijacking’ the El Hiblu, and the Maltese army stormed the ship

The three youths were disembarked in Malta in handcuffs, despite the police testifying that the crew were in control, no one was hurt, and nothing was damaged. 

Call on the Maltese Attorney General to drop all charges against The El Hiblu 3 and close the case before trial.