Maltese Police officer calls BirdLife members ‘faggots,’ one volunteer arrested

 
 A BirdLife Malta member of staff was arrested and cautioned by the Inspector of the Administrative Law Enforcement on Monday after recording the events following an incident where a recently dead Little Bittern, a protected species, was witnessed in the mouth of a hunters’ dog. The member of staff spent over two hours in police custody.

In a statement, BirdLife Malta claimed that the arresting officer said to a Maltese BirdLife Malta volunteer at the scene of the incident that, “You are all faggots, the lot of you” (“pufti kollha” in Maltese).

Steve Micklewright said, “We have a sound recording of the comment made by the officer concerned and we will be making this available to the police if they request it. In the meantime we are calling for the immediate suspension of this officer.”

This is the second time in ten days that BirdLife Malta staff have been required to spend time in police custody. On Saturday 12th April, two members of BirdLife Malta staff spent about four hours at the ALE Headquarters being questioned by police after BirdLife reported evidence of illegal hunting on the first day of the hunting season in the media.

On both occasions, the BirdLife Malta staff were released without charge.

These incidents follow the decision of the Commissioner of Police to deny BirdLife Malta’s request for a member of the Administrative Law Enforcement team to accompany their volunteers during its Spring Watch and Raptor Camps since September 2013.

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Chris Packham holds in his hands a common Swift, shot dead.

Steve Micklewright, Executive Director of BirdLife Malta said, “The Commissioner of Police took the decision to make the close cooperation that has existed between BirdLife Malta and the police more difficult by stopping a member of the ALE from being out in the field with us, even though we had always paid that officer’s salary during the time he was with us. It is surely no coincidence that there are now misunderstandings taking place between BirdLife Malta and the ALE.”

In a letter to BirdLife Malta the decision of the Commissioner was justified on the following grounds, “please be informed assistance against payment is not being considered… Instead this year we are committed to intensify our efforts by increasing more police personnel to support all the stakeholders to fight illegal bird poaching… in order to have better and quicker action any reports or information shall be forwarded through our control room to be dealt with accordingly.”

Today’s incident began at about 10.20am when a BirdLife Malta team member called 119 after witnessing the incident. An Administrative Law Enforcement team finally attended the incident at about 11.40am. Instead of focusing on identifying and arresting the suspected perpetrator, the ALE became more concerned that the incident was being recorded. The arrest of the BirdLife Malta member of staff then followed and he was transferred to the ALE Headquarters for questioning accompanied by five police officers.

Steve Micklewright added, “While we understand the incident regarding the Little Bittern is now under active investigation, but it could be that valuable time has been lost while the Administrative Law Enforcement questioned BirdLife Malta staff.”

BirdLife Malta has come under pressure to sign a communiqué that calls for closer cooperation between the government, environmental NGOs and hunting organisations to eliminate illegal hunting of birds.  Steve concluded, “We are of course very keen to eliminate illegal hunting by cooperating with the police in particular.  The reinstatement of the ALE officer that used to accompany us would ensure misunderstandings like today’s are eliminated and we can all focus on stopping the illegal killing of birds, which should be everyone’s top priority.”

Massacre on migration – Chris Packham documents spring hunting on Malta [WATCH]

“For many years I have lobbied the UK’s bird charities to campaign to raise awareness about the slaughter of migrant birds on Malta… Well, I’ve finally run out of patience,” says TV presenter Chris Packham, who is in Malta on an entirely self-funded independent project to document the Maltese hunting season.

Chris Packham told the BBC that rare species were being targeted, and hunters were even shooting Montagu’s harrier birds on the ground at night. “It’s a desperate situation,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme (LISTEN).

A Maltese wildlife official, Seregi Golvkin from the Wild Birds Regulation Unit, insisted that patrols to stop illegal hunting had been stepped up. He said enforcement of the restrictions had “improved dramatically in the last few years”. Malta has “the highest ratio in Europe” of enforcement staff deployed against illegal hunting, he told the BBC.

“Yesterday I’m afraid to say I had a dead swift in my hand that had been illegally shot and also a dead little bittern,” Packham told the BBC.

Thirty-three MEPs have jointly lobbied the European Commission to put pressure on Malta over the hunting exemption. A British Liberal Democrat MEP, Catherine Bearder, says the EU must “stop Malta from breaking EU rules, by systematically failing to apply the derogation correctly”.

“While the large majority of Maltese people oppose spring hunting and want to see migrating birds properly protected, successive Maltese governments have failed to bring illegal bird killing under control and refused to stop unsustainable hunting in spring,” Packham said. “Stopping spring hunting would be a huge step towards making Malta safe for Europe’s migrating birds and would even help the chances of birds which try to breed on the islands.”

There is new hope amongst Maltese conservationists that this might be the last year Malta opens a spring hunting season. A petition presented to Malta’s Electoral Commission last week and signed by more than 44,000 Maltese voters, calls for a public referendum to stop spring hunting in Malta by taking the decision away from politicians putting in directly in the hands of the Maltese people.

4 comments to Maltese Police officer calls BirdLife members ‘faggots,’ one volunteer arrested

  • Tony caruana

    And why is this offensive ? It is true they are all faggots and dykes.

    Editor’s Comment. Tony, Calling anyone ‘faggots and dykes’ is offensive, why would you believe otherwise? What is taking place on the island of Malta brings shame on all Maltese people. Do you not realise what the hunters are doing by their selfish and criminal activities, will ultimately result in the disappearance of most if not all of the birds, particularly protected raptors.This is just senseless carnage and I assure you people power will force the EU in the end to take decisive steps to stop what is taking place. The migrating birds that fly across Malta could, if promoted correctly, bring tens of thousands of tourists onto the island just to marvel and enjoy this unique sight which hunters are doing their best to destroy. The word we would use is ‘sickening.’

  • Gary Broxholme

    Chris is doing a great job and very brave with all those guns going off and i for one wish him and all there helpers the best of luck.

    Editor’s Comment. Gary, we all wish Chris the very best of luck. Perhaps as a direct result of Chris’s intervention and outspoken criticism of the carnage taking place on Malta, the EU will be shamed into taking firm and decisive action at long last?

  • Gary Broxholme

    EU say no more vote UKIP.

  • Kimberley Richardson

    The birds do not belong to the scum who shoot them. It must be clear to everyone that the Maltese government is corrupt and in the pockets of the hunting scum. The EU needs to send in troops to protect these birds.