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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Letter: Unethical Behaviour

I feel that the conduct of both Malta and Italy in relation to the rescue of the stranded immigrants was unethical, despite any other claims to the contrary.

While I recognise that the problem of irregular immigration is putting considerable pressure on European states, especially those bordering the Mediterranean Sea, I still believe that both our country and Italy should have taken immediate action to ensure that these people are saved.

Malta and Italy preferred instead to engage in a war of words while the immigrants aboard the Turkish vessel were facing deteriorating conditions putting their lives in danger. Indeed, both Malta and Italy chose to use these immigrants as human pawns to make a political point. I feel it is unethical to put lives in needless danger, just to prove that one country is right.

Unless, of course, one is not using utilitarian ethics where lives can be sacrificed if they fulfil some other purpose.

My intention here is not to debate whether Malta or Italy were right to refuse to take in these immigrants. My point here is to highlight the fact that, beyond the regulations set by international law, these immigrants are human beings like us and should have been promptly rescued.

Had Italy not decided to intervene, and had lives been lost in the process, who would have been responsible?

Would we dismiss such a tragedy and add it to the list? Would we try to downplay the deaths of these people by using faceless terms such as 'boat people' and 'illegal immigrants'?

It may be pertinent to cite the principle set forth by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant here - that people must never be used as a means but always as ends (my paraphrase).

If the future of Europe is characterised by such hard and cold political responses to the problem of immigration, then this is not the Europe I wish to belong to.

After all, Europe's very foundation was built on respect for human rights.

Source: Cardona G. (2/5/09) "Unethical Behaviour" in The Sunday Times of Malta Online: Letters, Available from: (Accessed 3 May 2009)

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