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Lassana Cisse's death: a racial crime that remains unpunished

Four years ago, the 6th April 2019, a man from Ivory Coast was killed in Birzebbuga, Malta, while walking home at night after watching a football game with friends. He was shot dead by gun bullets coming from a car that then disappeared in the night.

Screeshot from a video by African Media, in memory of Lassana Cisse. The father of three, from Ivory Coast was allegedly shot dead in April 6, 2019 by two off duty Maltese Armed Forces officers, in a racially motivated murder. They are free, on bail

His name was Lassana Cisse; he was 42 years old, a father of three children, he was an asylum seeker who came to Malta for a better life. A few days after the shooting, two off-duty military personnel were arrested; allegedly, they killed him simply because of his skin color.

For the fourth anniversary of his death, African media joined several other civil society organizations to call for justice. In a statement published in the media, the authors of the press release called the killing of Cisse an “act of terrorism intended to instill fear within the black migrant community.”

The alleged killers were not at their first attempt. Two months before the hit-and-run that took Cisse’s life, May Halimi, a young man from Chad was grievously wounded in another a hit-and-run car accident: the two officers had purposefully ran over him.

The group of NGOs stressed that the political discourse and inhumane policies against migrants have exacerbated hatred and prejudice against asylum seekers. “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”, said the statement.

Several initiatives to commemorate the death of Lassana Cisse were shared on various social media platforms.

At African Media, we collected testimonies at the Valletta gate. We wanted to honor the deceased by speaking a message of brotherhood and humanity, though coming from different parts of the world. We collected messages from young men and women from France, Belgium, Malta and Spain

Watch the 3 minute video below.

Aditus Foundation, a non profit that provides legal advice and works tirelessly for a better justice system in Malta, compiled a timeline that maps out the many abuses that asylum seekers have suffered and continue to suffer due institutional neglect.

It is available here.

Black Lives Matter Malta wrote that violence against migrants is alive and well in Malta. In a series of questions addressed to the authorities, the group asked why the racists still have the upper hand? Why are those responsible for Cisse's death still free?

They call on policy makers to pair actions to their words. “We cannot afford to simply wait for things to change by themselves”, they say in a statement on Facebook.


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