We remain very concerned that Malta continues to detain children with adults in Safi Detention Centre.
On 18 March 2022, our lawyers appeared before the Immigration Appeals Board on behalf of three minor Bangladeshi asylum-seekers. The three young men had arrived in Malta on 25 December 2021, after being rescued by the AFM at sea following their shipwreck. Shortly after, they had indicated being minors to the authorities. Despite that, they were kept in detention with adults for nearly 3 months.
During one of our routine call to detention in early February, adult Bangladeshis who were detained in the same block as minors informed us of the presence of the children. Our met the three young men on 6 February and decided to challenge their detention before the Immigration Appeals Board.
A case filed by aditus foundation lawyers on behalf of a Bangladeshi journalist was recently communicated to Malta by the European Court of Human Rights. Following the communication, Malta refused to settle the issue with the applicant. The Court had invited Malta to grant international protection to the applicant and close the case, but the Government refused and the case is now before the Court. The case is based on our assessment that Malta’s unfair detention and asylum policies put refugees at risk of being returned to their countries.
Ahmed* is a Bangladeshi journalist who fled his country in 2019 after being targeted by the ruling party during the elections. He arrived in Malta by boat in September 2021 and sought protection here. As soon as he arrived he was taken to Malta’s detention centre, where he remained for the whole duration of his asylum procedure. Throughout this time, more than a year, he did not have proper access to a lawyer.
On 30 March 2019 three teenage migrants – aged 15, 16 and 19 – were charged before Malta’s Courts. The most serious charges include acts of terrorism. If found guilty, they’ll spend the rest of their lives in prison.
They were rescued by a commercial vessel, the El Hiblu 1. Despite promises that they would be delivered to safety, the El Hiblu 1 sailed to Libya. Upon realising what had happened, the rescued migrants protested.
They simply couldn’t be returned to the horrible treatment they’d been suffering in Libya.
Katerina*, a Macedonian national and single mother of two young children, entered Malta legally and applied for a work permit in 2016. She was legally allowed to stay in Malta until a decision on her application and subsequent appeal was taken. Throughout that year, her two minor children aged four and six were attending school in Malta and finished their scholastic year in June 2017.
The whole process ended with a final rejection one year later in the beginning of July 2017, after which she voluntarily bought three plane tickets to return to her country mid-July. She overstayed in Malta for merely 21 days, in order allow her children to finish their scholastic year and to get things packed.
On the day of her flight, she was stopped by Immigration Police as she and her children were boarding the plane at Malta International Airport. An Immigration Police Officer issued a Return Decision accompanied by a Removal Order, together with a Schengen re-entry ban** of five years. She was then asked the by same Officer to sign a paper waiving her right to appeal as she was told that if she didn’t sign it then her return might be delayed.
At at that point, Katerina was being held by Immigration Police, pre-flight with her two minor children and was afraid of being held for longer periods of time at the airport. She was in an extremely vulnerable position. She signed the document and returned to Macedonia.
As a result of this, our client was banned from entering the European Union for 5 years, irrespective of the reason for travel. She was offered a web design job in Berlin which she had to decline due her ban and she could not travel even for tourist purposes with her children in Europe.
We filed an appeal with the Immigration Appeals Board (IAB) on the basis of the fact that our client was returning voluntarily, that there was no individual assessment that took into account that she only overstayed for a short period, and that she did not pose a public security risk. In our appeal we requested the IAB to withdraw the ban on re-entry. Our client received a negative decision from the IAB 15 months later.
We corresponded with Immigration Police for over 12 months, requesting a lifting of the ban. The ban was finally lifted by Immigration Police after two years.