Front page.

NEWS | Wednesday, 04 February 2009

Marsa centre, open no longer

Boundary wall and gate to surround migrants’ ‘open’ accommodation in Albert Town

Plans are under way to encircle the Marsa Open Centre with a boundary wall and to install electronic gates, among other security features, MaltaToday has learnt.
The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (Mepa) is currently evaluating application no. 01051/08, “to construct guard room at entrance, and boundary wall, to include gates, along the newly constructed embankment and canopy adjacent to office/guard room.”
The application was submitted by architect Anthony Mangion on February 26 2008, and the closing date for objections was 30 March 2008.
Formerly a government school which had to be abandoned for safety reasons, the Marsa Open Centre is currently home to around 670 asylum seekers, nearly all of whom would have already served a period of mandatory detention at one of Malta’s two closed detention camps in Safi or Hal Far.
It is a State-funded initiative run by NGO Fondazzjoni Suret il-Bniedem, and until recently the rationale behind the open centre was to provide lodgings and basic facilities for all homeless immigrants, including those whose application for refugee status or temporary humanitarian protection may have been rejected.
To date it has been run on an open-door policy (hence the name); but plans to enclose this centre with a boundary wall coincide with a marked change in attitude by the management regarding access, especially by the press.
Talking to MaltaToday journalist David Darmanin last September, the foundation’s director Oliver Gatt hinted at forthcoming restrictions of media visits:
“I don’t want journalists coming to the open centre without my express permission, and if need be, without me accompanying them,” he said.
Ironically, this new policy was announced at the same time as Justice Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici officially rolled back his predecessor’s blanket ban on media access to closed detention centres, after a media campaign lasting over three years.
In October 2008, the Fondazzjoni Suret il-Bniedem announced it had received an EU grant for a general refurbishment of the Open Centre. But it is not yet clear whether this funding will also be used to finance the erection of a fence.
In fact, plans to cordon off the centre have to date been kept entirely under wraps... although just this week, in what appears to be an attempt to test the waters before making any public announcement, manager Ahmed Bugre told electronic news portal Di-ve that a gate might be needed on account of “people sneaking in”.
“It is a major concern – and we have started to try to take a roster. But we really should have some kind of gate with access control...”
A request for further details regarding this development was sent to the Justice Ministry on Monday, but no reply was forthcoming by the time we went to print.


Any comments?
If you wish your comments to be published in our Letters pages please click button below.
Please write a contact number and a postal address where you may be contacted.



Download front page in pdf file format


All the interviews from Reporter on MaltaToday's YouTube channel.


It takes two to tango

Saviour Balzan

So there you are. The news is finally out

Harry Vassallo

Barack vs Benedict

Anna Mallia

No national security

A taste of Ebba’s sketches
Currently NUVO art & dine is exhibiting the first commemorative exhibition of Ebba von Fersen Balzan organised by her husband Saviour Balzan and Nuvo.

An honorary Maltese, a visionary artist
Artists, art critics and friends unanimously gather to remember the impact and value of Ebba von Fersen Balzan’s work and her strong connection with the Maltese islands


The Julian Manduca Award


Copyright © MediaToday Co. Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 9016, Malta, Europe
Managing editor Saviour Balzan | Tel. ++356 21382741 | Fax: ++356 21385075 | Email