Leaders from local human rights and migration NGOs on Thursday slammed local institutions for creating an environment within which the racially motivated murder of Lassana Cisse took place.
Cisse died after being shot by two off-duty soldiers as he was walking home through Hal Far in April 2019. The soldiers Francesco Fenech and Lorin Scicluna, who were charged with the murder of Cisse and attempted murder of two others accompanying him, are currently on bail. Cisse’s body will finally be repatriated to the Ivory Coast in June.
On Thursday, Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Imam Mohammed El Sad headed a final memorial for Cisse at the Paola mosque. The event was attended by members of the migrant community and members of human rights NGOs.
“We are here today to commemorate a man who left his country for a better life in a land that praises itself to be a champion of Human Rights. In the said land, he found death,” said Regine Nguini Psaila from the African Media Association Malta.
Nguini Psaila said that Cisse’s death could have been avoided. “We know who are the real culprits, beyond those who hit the blow. It is the careless political discourse that uses immigrants as scapegoats for votes. It is the misrepresentation and the underrepresentation in the media of minorities,” she said.
“He died so society will take note, so things will be different,” she added.
Head of Integra Foundation Maria Pisani said that Lassana’s life was “brought to a violent end because of a deadly virus that was allowed to take root and fester – racism.” Pisani said that justice will not be achieved with court delays or without “real commitment” to “transform the systematic racism and violence that allowed this crime to happen”.
“Confronting racism is not just about strategy papers, printed brochures, soundbites and a couple of articles in the media. Systematic change requires investment, commitment, transparency, accountability, integrity and leadership”.
She added that such change is needed by “those of you who have the power to effect change, and some of you are here today, to acknowledge where we have gone wrong and commit to doing better. Much, much better,” she said, in a clear address towards Reforms and Equality Parliamentary Secretary Rebecca Buttigieg who was present at the event.
Such change requires a commitment to investigate and understand how policies and practices knowingly and inadvertently discriminate against people of colour, Pisani said.
“Racism killed Lassana. And the institutions that were established to protect each and every one of us, failed to protect him… and the broader community,” she said, concluding “let us all, especially those who wield power to effect change, do what they can to ensure that we are never here again”.
Imam Mohammed El Sad also observed how Lassana is a victim of racism, “which is inhuman, unjust and immoral.”
Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Imam Mohammed El Sad also addressed those present and paid their final respects and prayers to Cisse. “Let the death show us how terrible this disrespect to one another truly is,” said Scicluna. “This is a call for a change of heart and we take this day as a commitment to do whatever we can,” he said.