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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Welcome to Europe, have a nice day!

The first substantial amount of illegal immigrants to reach Maltese waters since the country became a full member of the European Union were brought to dry land earlier today. A total of 72 people, most of them men from Somalia, who made it ashore are now housed at the Safi detention centre. They join the 30 other men from Somalia who arrived at the beginning of June.

Malta's refugee policies and procedures with asylum seekers in recent years have already been criticized extensively by Amnesty International. One hopes that these new arrivals will be dealt with in a manner that is more in line with EU regulations.

Meanwhile, it was interesting to note today that Malta has twinned up with The Netherlands to launch a National Focal Point for Drugs and Drug Addiction. This project provides the framework for technical assistance and training. Let's hope it also brings to the fore the fact that there is also a serious problem with the handling of the recreational drug culture, which has been growing and growing in the Maltese Islands for the past 30 odd years. But somehow I doubt that Malta will discriminalize recreational drug use in the same way that The Netherlands did many years ago, even though one of Malta's former Prime Ministers suggested this a few years ago.

Welcome to Europe and have a nice day, indeed.

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