A big step for Malta in 2019!
Once again, aditus foundation worked closely with the European Network on Statelessness (ENS) to research and compile comparative information on statelessness in Malta in the 2019 Statelessness Index.
One great outcome of our advocacy work is the accession by Malta to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons on 11 December. The 1954 Convention, which now has 94 parties, establishes a framework for the international protection of stateless people and is the most comprehensive codification of their rights. To be stateless is not to be recognised as a citizen by any state under the operation of its law. As a consequence, a stateless person cannot enjoy her fundamental civil, political, economic, cultural and social rights.
As we highlighted before, this is a welcome development in Malta’s approach to protecting people affected by statelessness and comes following the Government’s pledge at the UNHCR High Level Segment on Statelessness in October, as well as our joint advocacy efforts with UNHCR Malta.
We urgently call on the Prime Minister to ensure that all persons within Malta’s responsibility are rescued and that their safety is guaranteed. The nation cannot quietly celebrate Easter whilst men, women and children are drowning on our doorstep.
Saving lives and ensuring their disembarkation at a safe place is a fundamental legal obligation and also a moral imperative that can in no way be negotiated or renounced.
We also reiterate our message of two days ago: Malta must revoke its decision to close its ports to persons rescued at sea, whoever they are.
We are extremely concerned at
the increased number of alerts we are receiving from persons who do not have
sufficient food for themselves and their families and who are about to be
evicted because they are unable to pay rent. Many were at risk of poverty
before the COVID-19 outbreak, but now the number of people requiring urgent and
immediate assistance is increasing exponentially.
As people lose their jobs or have their wages cut, their ability to meet the most basic needs and those of their family members is being jeopardised. For some, these risks will be mitigated by Government’s support packages or by relying on support provided by social services, the community, family, friends, NGOs or the Church. Yet there are thousands of people who will not be able to receive this life-saving aid. They might not be aware of it or they could not be eligible for it. More worrying, it is becoming increasingly clear that there simply is not enough available aid to support Malta’s most vulnerable persons. We also note last week’s statement by 20 Church entities, expressing similar concerns.
This is our Director’s opinion piece for Times of Malta, published on 13 February 2020.
Despite the radical developments in Malta over the past months, it cannot be said that normality has been restored. After weeks of taking to the streets, we at Aditus Foundation welcomed Joseph Muscat’s resignation and Prime Minister Robert Abela’s statements on governance reform.
Yet, it would be foolish to believe or act as if Malta’s institutional shortcomings have miraculously disappeared.
Our democracy is still extremely vulnerable and we are concerned that the gravest threats come from within.
Notwithstanding their shameful activities, Muscat and Konrad Mizzi
remain members of Parliament. There, they are able to exercise authority
and influence laws that govern every aspect of all our lives and that
of our nation.
This is clearly unacceptable and no argument on their political right to those two seats will make us think otherwise.
We’ve just written to the Minister for Home Affairs, National Security and Law Enforcement on the occasion of Malta’s accession to the 1954 Statelessness Convention. This is fantastic news, as Malta was one of the few EU Member States to not have signed any of the statelessness conventions.
For many years, together with our partners at the European Network on Statelessness, we’ve advocated for Malta to step up its efforts on statelessness and tackle the human rights challenges faced by stateless people in Malta, including arbitrary detention, lack of documentation, eternal legal limbo, difficulties marrying and even simple tasks as opening a bank account.
All these issues, as well as related recommendations, are very well-presented in the Statelessness Index, a useful comparative tool on how European countries are protecting stateless persons.
Our next steps are to work closely with the Ministry to ensure that the legal and administrative framework set up to implement the Convention is of the highest possible standards!