Maltese NGOs at the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review’s Pre-Session

On 12 October aditus foundation, Kunsill Nazzjonali ŻgħażagħThe Malta Independent on Sunday editor David Lindsay attended the UPR pre-session on Malta to give their feedback and recommendations on the state of human rights in Malta as they stand.

The UPR pre-sessions are attended by States’ missions to the United Nations, based in Geneva, with a view to gathering information in preparation for the upcoming review of a State’s human rights performance. Malta’s review is set for 14 November 2018…we’ll be following closely!

(Don’t know what the UPR is, or why we think it’s an important human rights process? Read our earlier blog post.)

So, who said what at this pre-session?

aditus foundation

Neil was present as Director of aditus foundation but also as Head of Secretariat of the umbrella organisation Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta (PHROM).

He started his presentation by highlighting the significant progress made by Malta in several areas since the last UPR, such as the adoption of the Integration Policy (2017) as well as amendments made to the immigration detention policy.

Statelessness was an issue discussed in depth by aditus foundation, also in the shadow report presented to the UPR process. In this regard, Neil reiterated concerns expressed in the Statelessness Index, namely:

Neil further noted the challenges faced by refugees and migrants in accessing Europe safely and legally, emphasizing that safe and legal pathways need to be introduced. He also stressed the need for Malta and Italy to stop bickering on Twitter and to find a way of resolving their legal and political disagreements regarding rescue at sea of migrants.

aditus foundation pleaded that Ħal Far Tent Village urgently needs to be replaced with housing that is community-based and equipped with basic material supplies. In relation to immigration detention, Neil noted that some instances of deprivation of liberty need to be aligned with international human rights standards.

Finally, on the migration theme, Neil urged Malta to remove the arbitrary prohibition of civil marriages for undocumented migrants.

Neil then spoke on the rule of law, mentioning examples of institutionalised nepotism, kickbacks and other forms of corruption. Neil finally stressed the importance of establishing a public inquiry looking into the brutal assassination of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

PEN Representative David Lindsay

David Lindsay, Editor of The Malta Independent on Sunday, spoke on behalf of Pen International, Reporters without Borders, IPI (International Press Institute), The Committee for the Protection of Journalists, The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, and Article 19.

He stated that during the last UPR session, no recommendations were made on freedom of speech, yet Malta’s situation degenerated enormously. He underlined how Daphne Caruana Galizia’s brutal assassination on 16 October 2017 has left trailing behind it a climate of fear.

David reminded his listeners that a makeshift memorial set up in her memory has been cleared over 20 times by government officials in the thick of the night.

David reiterated Neil’s recommendation by calling for an international public inquiry that would establish whether her death could or should have been prevented.

David said that PEN welcomed the decriminalisation of defamation under the new Media and Defamation Act adopted in 2018, yet also mentioned serious concerns in relation to this new law, particularly that the burden of proof remains with the defendant, including in cases initiated by senior members of the government.

In addition, libel suits may be passed to heirs. To highlight this, David mentioned how Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family inherited a total of 33 civil libel suits, all instituted by senior public officials against Daphne herself.

Lindsay lamented that 2017 was the year Malta was introduced to Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP), as a way to censor and silence journalists and media houses by slapping them with exasperatingly high-cost legal fees. David expressed the fear that these methods are aimed at preventing the media from practicing its right to inform the public about matters of general interest.

David urged the UPR to recommend the prohibition of recognition of foreign defamation judgments, in order to protect Maltese journalists from SLAPP and libel tourism.

He concluded by stressing the importance of having a public inquiry looking into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

Kunsill Nazzjonali Żgħażagħ

The General Secretary of Kunsill Nazzjonali Żgħażagħ, Sean Ellul, tabled the KZN’s UPR recommendations, focusing mainly on sexual and mental health issues. Sean noted that, although Malta does offer free STD and STI  testing, it is quite hard to access these due to a long waiting list of up to several months.

This means that a good part of the population remains untested: over 25% of individuals suffering from HIV are unaware they are HIV positive.

KNZ recommends that a standardised, holistic national policy on sex education is established, that incorporates both formal and non-formal education. Further investment in quality sexual health clinics and services is also needed. Self-testing and the distribution/educational use of contraceptives among youths need to be made easier and simpler.

With regard to mental health, Sean highlighted the situation in Mount Carmel Hospital by referring specifically to the young man who was discovered dead after he had fled the hospital. Sean underlined the need to overhaul this institution, also referring to the need for further public education and awareness-raising.

KNZ commented on the Maltese legal and judicial system, where a survey carried out just after Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination showed that 53% of Maltese citizens lacked trust in the system. In line with aditus’ own earlier recommendation, KNZ recommended the establishment of an independent National Human Rights Institution in conformity with the Paris Principles.


This post is part of a series of posts on the Universal Period Review process. Malta’s review, where the country’s human rights situation will be assessed by other States, is set for 14 November 2018.

Follow our News and Updates to be kept updated on this important United Nations procedure. 


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.


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).


Youth, Not Status gathered 30 youth for its I training course weekend

On Saturday 30 September and Sunday 1 October 2017, we held the first training course weekend of our project Youth, Not Status. 30 young people living in Malta, coming from different backgrounds and nationalities. Students, youth leaders, social workers and various trainers, gathered for 2 days at the Archbishop’s Seminary in Rabat.

The training course weekend was an opportunity for our participants to create a platform to exchange experiences, practices and methods for young people and youth organizations on how to address migration, integration and human rights issues at the grassroots. It also included discussions focusing on national youth actions and how to strengthen the awareness and mobilization of young people in relation to these issues.

The project, funded by Erasmus+, will bring together Maltese youth and young refugees and migrants in an open social dialogue with local authorities focused on key themes of migration and integration relevant to Malta, highlighting stories and experiences from a youth perspective.

The training is also an opportunity for brainstorming about ways in which young people can be mobilised into find solutions in common critical areas: such as political participation, prevention of violent extremism, cultural heritage, freedom of expression and media and information literacy.

The training course weekend was designed to encourage discussions between Maltese and migrant youth in order to increase knowledge and awareness on migration, to reflect about the effects of migration on the rights of young refugees, and to understand the challenges and potentials of cultural diversity, inclusion, social integration, youth work and youth political participation.

The 2 days of training were structured into 4 different sessions facilitated by our Assistant Director Carla Camilleri, Maria Pisani from Integra Foundation, Binda Consulting International and PRISMS Malta. The sessions focused on the following topics:

  1. Civil Society and Democracy;
  2. Youth Narratives and Youth experiences with Racism, Marginalisation, xenophobia.
  3. Youth as Political Citizens,
  4. Youth Sharing Experiences, Multiculturalism.

Due to the lack of information on the existing issues, preconceived ideas, the continuous criminalization of the irregular migrants and their presumed threat and youth civil society, Maltese and the refugee and migrant community are not empowered to act as a cohesive group.

The sessions held during the weekend aimed at strengthening the protection of the rights of migrants and to change the societal attitudes towards them by integrating human rights discourse and the dignity dimension into the public debate on migration.

The discussion among the participants concluded with two main objectives:

  1. to change the discourse on migration by mainstreaming the topics of human rights, dignity and protection into public discussions;
  2. to develop and implement advocacy goals aiming to ensure the implementation of opportunities for youth to engage in governance and participate in political and decision-making processes.

Youth, Not Status next training course will be held on the 11 and 12 November.

The topics will be:

  • Cohabitation and co-work between young Nationals and young Refugees in Malta;
  • Young people’s representation in media, dialogue and collaboration between youth and key media actors;
  • National legislation on youth revision participation to advocate for the development of national youth strategies and policies and to lobby for the sound implementation of these.

REGISTRATION IS STILL OPEN!! Click here to apply:

http://aditus.org.mt/our-work/projects/youth-not-status/registration-form/

If you need more info, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us:

antonellasgobbo@aditus.org.mt


Why should you walk in solidarity with migrants?

You must know, or must have known, a non-EU national making Malta home.

He could be the Bangladeshi carer you’ve just interviewed to take care of your ageing parents. Or the quiet Sudanese plasterer brought in by your turn-key. Or the new Serbian waitress at the café round the corner. Maybe the Macedonian kids your children play with at school. The Bosnian artist you’ve liked on Facebook. Your new Ghanian neighbours. The Pakistani nurse that took care of you at Mater Dei.

Yes, the inspiration for Sunday’s #solidaritywithmigrants walk is the on-going issue with Government about a very specific group of migrants. Yet the message we want you to convey on Sunday is not just about this specific group.

It’s about all the groups of migrants living here. It’s a very simple and straightforward message telling them, and the rest of the country, that we stand with them as they put together the building blocks of their lives in Malta.

Sunday’s #solidaritywithmigrants walk is not asking you to take on any long-term political commitments. We’re not asking anyone to ignore serious discussions on integration, security, culture, and human rights. Nor are we asking you to take on these discussions head on!

Walking with us, in #solidaritywithmigrants, acknowledges the need to have these discussions.

More importantly, it tells migrants that these are discussions to be had with them and not about them.

Join us.