On April 6th, 2019, Lassana Cisse, a 42-year-old man from the Ivory Coast, was shot and killed in Birżebbuġa, Malta, in a racially motivated attack, where two other victims Ibrahim Bah and Mohammed Jallow were also left for dead. The two suspects were identified as off-duty Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) soldiers, who allegedly targeted the victims because of their skin colour. Just a few months before, the same two perpetrators deliberately ran over May Malimi, a young man from Chad, whilst he was also walking in Birżebbuġa. Four years on and Lassana’s family and the other 3 victims are still waiting for the excruciatingly slow wheels of justice to turn, whilst the suspects are out on bail.

This heinous act was an act of terrorism intended to instil fear within the black migrant community. The self-confidence of the two suspects was fueled by years of political rhetoric and inhumane immigration policies that suggested that migrants of colour and black migrants may be treated as inferior people. For far too long, political discourse and punishing policies have fanned the flames of racial prejudice, while others have condoned such discrimination through their deafening silence.

The Government needs to stress that racism and prejudice will not be tolerated. Only then can we start to see real change in the public and private sectors. The Government must demonstrate its commitment to ensuring that justice is served and that such acts of racial violence will not go unpunished. Words are simply not enough! Whilst the launch of the anti-racism strategy is a step in the right direction, real change requires a transparent review of all structures, policies and social norms, and a concerted effort to address systemic racism at its roots.

aditus foundation has compiled a timeline of the known instances of institutional neglect and racialised violence that records Malta’s long and shameful history in its treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers that have reached our shores since 2002. This shocking and shameful timeline speaks for itself.

The killing of Lassana is a tragic reminder that we must continue to fight against all forms of racism and bigotry. We stand in solidarity with the family and friends of Lassana, the other 3 victims, and all those who have been affected by racial violence.