An Incomparable Year of Change – Legal Unit, pt 2

by Mireille Boffa, Legal Officer, Legal Unit, aditus foundation

An excerpt of Alexis’ input to aditus foundation’s Annual Activity Report for 2021. The full Annual Report 2021 may be downloaded here (.pdf). In the coming weeks we’ll be publishing the other team member inputs to the Annual Report.

I joined aditus foundation in July 2021 as a Junior Legal Officer and my work was mainly focused within the legal unit. I have previous experience within the legal field however the field of asylum and human rights was relatively new to me. Initially my work was focused on simpler procedures including applications for citizenship, residence documents, family reunification and long-term residence applications with the Identity Malta Agency and also follow-up with the relative agencies. I was also doing some research regarding country-of-origin information as well as CJEU, ECtHR and domestic courts case law.

However, my duties became more complex revolving around issues with birth registration of beneficiaries of international protection, refusal from Jobsplus to issue employment licences to asylum seekers, freedom of information requests to government agencies, applications to the International Protection Agency for temporary humanitarian protection status for the more vulnerable individuals and subsequent applications. I also started to work on submissions for appeals before the Immigration Appeals Board relating to detention orders, removal orders and review of detention pending removal and started to attend hearings at the Immigration Appeals Board (IAB) under the supervision of the Legal Officer. This posed to be a difficult task due to the very low rate of success of cases filed before this Board coupled with their lack of expertise within the field of asylum and human rights.

Apart from the research and preparation of submissions for the IAB, I was also responsible for liaising and organising the visits to the detention and reception centres. Visits at the detention centre involved the provision of information regarding the asylum procedure to the newly arrived asylum seekers and where necessary pro bono legal advice. However, we also provided information to rejected migrants regarding the procedural safeguards which should be implemented in the procedure for their return. The visits to the reception centres involved meeting vulnerable clients who had been referred to us by social workers from AWAS and other entities to determine the best way forward regarding their legal status.

Despite the daily difficulties which we face coupled with the emotional challenges, this has been a very fulfilling experience which is incomparable to any other.
Mireille, Legal Officer

Moreover, we were also visiting asylum seekers who were incarcerated at the Corradino Correctional Facility in Paola and also at the facility for young offenders at Mtaħleb, to provide information regarding the asylum procedure and to ensure that these individuals receive the same treatment as all other asylum seekers since these are particularly vulnerable individuals some of which suffer from substance abuse disorder as a result of the trauma endured in their countries of origin.

Additionally, I worked on the preparation of research and submissions for cases filed before the domestic courts, including for habeas corpus applications and also constitutional court applications. I also supported the Legal Officer in the preparation of submissions relating to Dublin appeals and International Protection Appeals before the International Protection Appeals Tribunal and also in a case filed at the European Court of Human Rights relating to the violation of Article 3 of the European Convention.