Malta Refugee Council demands and official inquiry into the death of a young girl
At the end of August, Loujin, a four-year old Syrian girl, boarded a wooden fishing vessel on Lebanon’s coast with her mother and one year old sister, Mira, and set out across the sea with over sixty other people from Syria, Palestine and Lebanon.
Running out of basic provisions and taking on water, they began sending out distress signals on 2 September, 2022. Those distress signals were immediately relayed to the Maltese authorities.Joint Press Statement on the vigil for Loujin held on 16 September 2022
Publicly available information on Loujin’s tragic death is conflicting. One version claims Malta was alerted to the distress situation on 3 September and that no concrete action was taken to secure the lives of the persons aboard the fishing boat. Another version claims that Malta was informed on 6 September and every step was taken to protect all lives, including that of Loujin.
The version everyone must agree on is that Loujin did not survive the ordeal, dying of thirst in her mother’s arms.
On 10 September we launched the #Safe4All Legal Initiative. The #Safe4 All Legal Initiative is a campaign urging Malta to better protect LGBTIQ+ refugees. It asks Malta to stop declaring as ‘safe’ those countries that currently criminalise LGBTIQ+ identities and/or behaviour.
The campaign, including a Bill to amend Malta’s asylum legislation, was presented to the Equality Parliament Secretary. It will be maintained throughout the coming months as Malta seeks to crown its rainbow glory by hosting EuroPride Valletta 2023.
Visit the campaign’s page for further info, including a touching story of two of our clients.
The story of two LGBTIQ+ clients: Ali & Ashraf
Ali and Ashraf* are two vulnerable LGBTIQ+ individuals, who faced sexual violence in their countries of origin as well as during their journey to Europe. They were referred to us by their social workers and doctors who they grew to trust over the course of a few months. Both Ali and Ashraf came from what are deemed to be “safe countries“** of origin.
On arrival in Malta they applied for asylum and were passed through a fast-tracked procedure due to the fact that they came from “safe countries”. The procedure was carried out when both, although extremely vulnerable, were being detained in Safi Detention Centre. They were not given any information prior to the asylum interview. Consequently, they did not mention that they are LGBTIQ+ individuals in fear of the consequences of making such statements, being unware of Malta’s position on the matter, and also in fear that they could be at risk of harassment or violence should the other detainees find out.
What does detention mean? What is freedom?
This is how we approached the project ‘Detained Narratives’. We wanted to give a voice to those people Malta chooses to lock up in squalid living conditions, in a system that in many cases is illegal.
Three young men agreed to talk about their experiences. Many others were too traumatised. Most were afraid.
Their voices expose Malta’s immigration detention regime. Concise yet powerful, the three clips we are disseminating provide a glimpse into the lived experiences of young men detained in Safi Barracks under a policy widely condemned by international, European and Maltese human rights bodies.
We are sharing the videos on our FB, Twitter and Insta pages. They may also be viewed on our YouTube Channel as also our advocacy page #ThereAreAlternatives.
Do not hesitate to contact us for further information.
On 29 April 2022, three Bangladeshi individuals were released from the Ħal Safi Detention Centre. Nashir, Hussain and Shumon were freed three days beyond the maximum permissible period of 18 months. The extra days they spent in Ħal safi were in breach of their rights as prescribed by both EU and national law. They had arrived in Malta in 2019 and had been in detention ever since. This post provides an overview of how we intervene when maximum detention limits are exceeded.
In Malta, it is common practice to automatically detain asylum-seekers from countries where returns are generally feasible. Usually they are nationals of countries listed as ‘safe’, but this is not always the case. These situations often result in total detention periods exceeding two years. This was the case for Nashir, Hussain and Shumon. They were detained upon arrival in December 2019, throughout their asylum procedure. Once the asylum authorities rejected their asylum claim, they were immediately issued with a return decision and removal order for them to be repatriated. They were only released in April 2022.