Press Statement calling on the Government of Malta to Open Port for Safe Disembarkation of 49 Refugees and Migrants

49 refugees and migrants remain stranded in the Mediterranean. To date, no member state has stepped up and assumed shared responsibility for refugees and migrants saved at sea. The lack of solidarity among Member States is not only disappointing, but also demonstrates a disturbing disdain for their legal, ethical and moral responsibilities towards each other, and more importantly, towards the most vulnerable.

We would like to take this opportunity to recognize and commend the work and commitment of Malta’s Armed Forces who have been engaged in a number of rescue operations in the Mediterranean over the Christmas period. Far from international headlines, the Government of Malta has opened its port and provided haven to those in desperate need of safety and security.

The situation in Libya, the violence and ongoing human rights violations are well documented. Libya is not, and must not be a port of return. We call upon the Member States to support the work of the humanitarian search and rescue vessels, to share responsibility for all asylum seekers entering the EU, regardless of port of entry, and to enable access to safety and protection throughout the EU.

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NGO PRESS RELEASE – Don’t look the other way: Allow the disembarkation of the men, women and children stranded on board the Sea-Watch 3

As Malta and the rest of Europe celebrate Christmas, 32 men, women and children, have been stranded out at sea for days waiting for a country to relent and take them in.

The tragic truth is that not a single member state has stepped up and offered refuge. This is beyond regrettable, it is a travesty of humanity.

We, the undersigned NGOs, urge the government to once more lead by example and allow the people stranded on board the rescue vessel, Sea Watch 3, to disembark in Malta. Malta should do this whether or not it is legally responsible for disembarkation in terms of international law.

Malta, like all other European states, has a legal obligation to offer refuge to people fleeing persecution.

The standard argument these days is that migrants rescued at sea should be returned to Libya, even if we know that they will be imprisoned in horrible conditions, tortured, raped, or sold as slaves. This is a flagrant violation of our freely assumed commitment to ensure that no one is returned to a country where their safety is not guaranteed and where they are at risk of torture or other violations of their rights.

Arguing that we are somehow absolved of responsibility for their fate, because Malta is not intervening directly, is nothing short of facile, as responsibility is not only legal, it is also moral and ethical. It is nothing short of cynical to use laws enacted to preserve life and protect human dignity to justify a refusal to provide a safe haven to people fleeing persecution. In so doing, we violate the spirit of the law, under the pretence of upholding its letter.

It is for this reason that we call on Malta not to look the other way, and to open its doors to those who need it most.

This press release is being issued by:

aditus foundation, African Media Association, Allied Rainbow Communities, Christian Life Community (CLC) Malta, Cross Culture International Foundation (CCIF), Department for Inclusion and Access to Learning – Faculty of Education University of Malta, Integra Foundation, JRS Malta, Kummissjoni Ġustizzja u Paċi, Malta Emigrants Commission, Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement, People for Change Foundation, Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta (PHROM), Solidarity with Migrant Group, SOS Malta, Spark 15, The Critical Institute, Women’s Rights Foundation

Friday, 28th December, 2018


#DontLetThemDrown


Publication of our Compendium of Asylum Jurisprudence, Law & Policy

A collection of Maltese asylum case-law

The Compendium of Asylum Jurisprudence, Law & Policy – A Collection of Maltese Asylum case-law gathers the large collection of case-law decided by the Maltese courts and the European Court of Human Rights with respect to Malta in the field of asylum.

The Compendium is divided into six chapters. Chapter I on Procedural Issues takes into account the vast number of judgements that examined the nature of judicial review and constitutional review in the field of asylum and immigration, and the implications of challenging decisions by the Refugee Appeals Board and the Immigration Appeals Board.

Chapter II focuses on jurisprudence relating to asylum determination claims and highlights the restraints that our Courts have in reviewing decisions relating to asylum on the merits.

The examination on the grounds for detention, the remedies available at law for challenging detention and judgments on detention in the light of claims of breaches of fundamental right are tackled in Chapter III.

Chapter IV explores the importance of access to the territory and surrounding issues, such as border control and the principle of non-refoulement, and related judgements. The age assessment procedure is examined in Chapter V.

Finally, Chapter VI explores the content of and access to associated rights of beneficiaries of international protection in the light of the available Court jurisprudence and Ombudsman decisions.

Compendium of Asylum Jurisprudence, Law and Policy – Table of Contents       Author: Carla Camilleri; Research Assistants: Isabelle Sammut, Enya Tanti; Reviewed by: Neil Falzon

 

The Compendium is free of charge, however the costs of postage would need to be covered by anyone interested in receiving a copy by post. Charges for postage for both overseas and local postage for this publication is €3.50.  Payment can be made via a number of options: click here for information on payment.

It is important to indicate your name and include the word “Compendium” in the narrative of your transaction.  Please email: carlacamilleri@aditus.org.mt for more information.

Ultimately, we hope that the Compendium strengthens the quality of those judicial decisions that determine the extent to which refugees are able to effectively enjoy their fundamental human rights.

We hope that readers of this Compendium will take from it the wealth of knowledge gathered in its pages, and also appreciate the struggles refugees face as they seek to secure their human dignity in Malta.

Dr. Neil Falzon

Director aditus foundation

 


This publication has been funded through the Small Initiatives Support Scheme managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector.


PRESS STATEMENT: NGO Statement on the Government’s Decision to close Malta’s ports to NGO rescue ships

We are gravely concerned by the Government’s decision to close Malta’s ports to NGO rescue ships. The consequences of this measure are potentially fatal, as the vessels will no longer be able to continue saving lives in the Mediterranean Sea.

Although supposedly aimed at ensuring respect for the law, this action directly undermines the protection of human life at Europe’s borders, making them even more dangerous for refugees and asylum seekers.

The irregular migration sea route from Libya to Italy, which has always been the most lethal route for irregular entry into Europe, is becoming increasingly perilous. According to a 2017 UNHCR report, the death rate amongst those crossing from Libya increased to 1 for every 14 people in the first three months of 2018, compared to 1 for every 29 people in the same period in 2017.  In 2017, the Central Mediterranean route accounted for 2853 out of 3139 deaths in the Mediterranean, while in 2018 it accounted for 635 out of 972.

NGOs saved thousands of lives in the Mediterranean between 2015 and 2018 – in 2016 they were the most important single Search and Rescue (SAR) actor, accounting for 26% of all rescues. They filled a huge gap in state search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean after Italy scaled back its Mare Nostrum operation in late 2014.

One of the inevitable consequences of the decision to close Malta’s ports to these vessels will be that more people will lose their lives attempting to reach a place of safety. This especially since EU states do not seem to have any plans to increase their search and rescue capacity in the Mediterranean, but intend to rely instead on the Libyan coastguard to conduct rescues.

The deaths of 100 migrants in the seas off Libya yesterday, after a Spanish NGO vessel was told that the Libyan coastguard was taking care of the rescue, highlights the deadly consequences of refusing to collaborate with NGOs and limiting their capacity to operate effectively.

Moreover, seen in the light of recent government statements stressing the need to allow the Libyan coastguard to operate without obstruction, the actions being taken against NGOs conducting search and rescue look like little more than a thinly veiled attempt to block refugees and migrants from leaving Libya.

It is impossible not to question the morality and humanity of a decision that will effectively trap people in an abusive situation, where their safety is anything but guaranteed. It is a well-documented fact that migrants in Libya routinely experience severe violations of their rights including rape, slavery, torture, ill-treatment, extortion and detention in miserable conditions. Not only, it is completely impossible for them to apply for protection there.

While it is no doubt important to secure our national borders, this can not, and should never be, at the cost of the life or safety of others, especially vulnerable people seeking refuge.

We therefore call on the government of Malta to urgently reconsider its decision and to allow NGO rescue vessels to continue to operate from Malta ports.

We also urge the government to support NGO rescue efforts not just by allowing them to use our port facilities but also by allowing rescued migrants to disembark in Malta pending a final decision on which countries will take them.

 

This press release is being issued by the following organisations:

aditus Foundation, Eritrean Community, Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants, Graffiti, IAFR, Integra Foundation, JRS Malta, Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Malta, Kopin, Libico, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Migrant Women Association Malta, PFC, PHROM, Solidarity with Migrants Group, SOS Malta, Spark 15.

 

Monday, 02 July 2018


Training materials on access to justice for migrant children

The FAIR project (Fostering Access to justice for Immigrant children’s Rights) was a two-year long project, which aimed at strengthening access to justice for migrant children in the EU. Migrant children in the EU face violations of their human rights every day. Lack of access to their families, to information, guardians and legal assistance, lack of access to housing or education, unlawful detention – are few examples of what the children suffer.

The results of the project are a number of practical training modules and learning tools to support lawyers in defending migrant children’s rights:

The materials include the following training modules:

0. Guiding principles and definitions,

I. Access to fair procedures including the right to be heard and to participate in proceedings,

II. Access to justice in detention,

III. Access to justice for economic, social and cultural rights,

IV. Access to justice in the protection of their right to private and family life,

V. Redress through international human rights bodies and mechanisms,

VI. Practical handbook for lawyers when representing a child.

These materials have been used in national trainings for lawyers organised by the ICJ-EI in Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta, Bulgaria, Ireland and Germany and include also practical training tools, such as case studies and warm-up questionnaires to guide possible future trainings.

Timeframe:

1 March 2016 – 1 March 2018

Project Partners:

International Commission of Jurists – European Institutions (Lead Partner), Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) (EL), aditus foundation (MT), Fundacion Raices (ES), Bundesfachverband Unbegleitete Minderjährige Flüchtlinge e.V. (B-UMF) (DE), Legal Clinic for Immigrant and Refugees (LCIR) (BG), Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) (IR), Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (SSSA).

 

EU flag_yellow_high

Co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Union.

Co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Union and the Open Society Institute Budapest Foundation, and implemented in cooperation with the AIRE Center, Child Rights Connect, and the Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione (ASGI) (Italy).