Asylum throughout 2019: AIDA report on Malta is now available!

aditus foundation is happy to announce the launch of the 2019 AIDA report.

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a project of the European Council on Refugees & Exiles (ECRE), producing national reports on the situation of asylum in a number of EU Member States. The reports covers key areas such as asylum procedures, reception conditions and detention.  

It aims to provide up-to-date information on asylum practice in 23 European countries, which is accessible to researchers, advocates, legal practitioners and the general public. The database also seeks to promote the implementation and transposition of EU asylum legislation reflecting the highest possible standards of protection in line with international refugee and human rights law and based on best practice. The 2019 AIDA report on Malta was researched and prepared by aditus foundation and edited by ECRE.

Together with a comprehensive overview of asylum procedures and updated figures, the report highlights the main issues for the year 2019, in particular the significant increase of migrants disembarked in Malta following Search and Rescue operations leading to a renewed pressure on the reception system and the systematic and automatic detention of all asylum-seekers.

The full report can be downloaded here.


Our 3 fresh policy papers on refugee integration, with Integra & JRS!

On behalf of aditus foundation, Integra Foundation and JRS Malta, I would like to share with you our 3 new publications on refugee integration.

Published in the context of Project Integrated, with the support of UNHCR Malta, the 3 Policy Papers are intended to guide our advocacy with Government on key aspects of refugee integration. In the coming months we will be engaging in dialogue sessions with Ministries and other entities so as to present our views and discuss ways forward.

The Policy Papers, published as an on-going series of policy input, are as follows (click on the names to download in .pdf):

Do not hesitate to contact us should you require further information.



We’ve launched Our Island II: Personal Accounts of Refugees in Malta!

It is a book about integration and the paths that people follow — voluntarily or otherwise — as they slowly make Malta home, their island.

Neil Falzon, aditus Director, talking to the Times of Malta

On Friday, May 10, at the Casino Maltese, Valletta, aditus foundation launched Our Island II: Personal Accounts of Refugees in Malta with the support of the European Parliament Office in MaltaUNHCR Malta and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles. The publication of Our Island II, the second in the Our Island series of migration books, was funded through the President’s Award for Creativity, which is managed by Arts Council Malta.

The launch was a great success, with the upper gallery of the Casino Maltese full of friends and fans of the project, and books flying off the tables. Our guests included civil society colleagues, members of the press and many figures from Malta’s diverse migrant community.

Mary and Ousmane, two contributors to Our Island II, as well as aditus Director Neil Falzon, Senior Communication Coordinator at ECRE Villads Zahle and European Parliament Office in Malta Acting Head Anna Zammit addressed the gathered guests at the start of the evening.

Neil, in his opening speech, contemplated the value of Our Island as a vehicle for the revelation that is migrant voices and first-person migrant stories: new arrivals making Malta their own and explaining how that endeavour continues to unfold in their own words — rather than either being rendered anonymous and invisible by generic news coverage, public discourse and government policy, or being spoken for through the work of their NGO advocates.

In closing, Mary, originally from Sierra Leone, offered humour and encouragement. She arrived in Malta as a war refugee, wife and mother. She is now a Mater Dei Hospital paediatric nurse, homeowner and proud taxpayer studying for a master’s degree having started her university education in Malta. Mary insisted, “Malta gave me a chance, a second chance at life… So, brothers and sisters, do not be disheartened. To be a refugee is not a disease. You can make it. If I can make it, you can also make it.

How can I obtain my copy of Our Island I and II?

For a copy of Our Island II (or Our Island I) against a nominal donation, write to us or give us a ring.


To see the album of Elisa Von Brockdorff’s fabulous photos from the launch, visit our Flickr page.


Book Launch: Our Island II: Personal Accounts of Refugees in Malta

There are circumstances you find yourself in that absolutely strip you of all human dignity. It is a painful thing.

When people look at refugees…sometimes they’ve been through so much, just let them be. They don’t want to trouble you. They just want to fit in.

I know the feeling because that’s what I have always wanted, just a place I can say, “Look, I’m home.”

Nicky

Our Island II: Personal Accounts of Refugees in Malta gives space to 12 refugee and migrant stories to speak for themselves. It presents stories reflecting differences in the time spent in Malta, cultural and national background, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, age, education and profession and family composition, here and away.

Our Island II also attempts to span a wide range of emotions and experiences: the anxiety caused by being locked up, surprise at a Maltese woman’s flirtatiousness, peer pressure within one’s own ethnic community, helplessness at being perpetually undocumented, pure joy at being united with family members, stress due to the constant need to ‘integrate’.

So when we said we were going to get married, some people were thinking, “An African marriage? How could it be nice?” But as soon as they arrived at our wedding, they were surprised at how people were, and at how people dressed…

People wore traditional clothes, and just like my boss, they were all dancing! When African music is put on, you not only want to listen, you want to move!

That’s why it was so much fun.

Ousman

12 stories: Nicky, Adil, Farah, Michael, Mary, Sekou, Agnes, Omar, Emad, Dursa, Hana, Ousman. Well, 11 stories and Emad’s poem. As you read through the stories, you will be invited into 12 very different worlds. You will get to know our contributors and be given a glimpse of their lives in Malta. They are indeed very different worlds, yet united by possibly two significant elements: the relationship between Malta and all narrators is based on otherness; and their protagonists are, quite honestly, regular people.

Our Island II will be launched on the 10th May 2019 at the Casino Maltese, Valletta. For more information email: [email protected]aditus.org.mt.



National Media Report on the representation in the media of suspects and accused persons

Project Partners: Hungarian Helsinki Committee (Lead Partner), aditus foundation, Fair Trials Europe, Human Rights House Zagreb, Mérték, Rights International Spain, Vienna University. Supported by: This project is funded by the European Union’s Justice Programme (2014 – 2020)

According to EU Directive (EU) 2016/343 on the strengthening of certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and of the right to be present at the trial in criminal proceeding proceedings, Member States must ensure that suspects and accused persons are not presented as being guilty, in court or in public through the use of measures of physical restraint such as handcuffs, glass boxes, cages and leg irons.

aditus, together with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and partners (Fair Trials Europe, Human Rights House Zagreb, Mérték, Rights International Spain and the Vienna University), have been working together to increase knowledge and sensitivity to the presumption of innocence among professionals and the public. The Importance of Appearances: How Suspects and Accused Persons are presented in the Courtroom, in Public and in the Media project page can be accessed on this link.

Over the past year the aditus team, coordinated by our Assistant Director Carla Camilleri, has been carrying out a media review in order to collect and analyse data on the media representation of suspects and accused persons at all stages of the arrest and subsequent legal proceedings in Malta. This process included a sampling phase spanning a number of months of all news reporting relating to arrests of suspects or criminal court proceedings in printed newspapers, online portals and TV broadcasts in both the Maltese and English language press. The ultimate purpose of the research was to identify good and bad practice regarding the presumption of innocence in various sectors of the media. Stories were selected and coded by all project partners in their respective countries in accordance with the guidelines and procedures developed by the Vienna University team.

The results of the Maltese media review were collated into a National Media Report, which can be read in full here. The Report gives an overview of the laws, legal guidelines and legal framework relating to the media and criminal justice. It also gives a contextual outline of the media landscape in Malta, focusing on printed media and their websites, online news portals and also television broadcasts.

In the course of the research, the main legal provisions regulating the portrayal of suspects in the media that were identified are the following:

  • Requirements as to Standards and Practice applicable to News Bulletins and Current Affairs: persons accused of criminal matters should not be projected as if they are already found guilty and the principle of presumption of innocence must be fully respected. Trial by the media before any court judgement is delivered must be avoided at all times and care should be taken to avoid broadcasting repetitive footage that might prejudice the accused’s right to a fair trial.
  • Juvenile Court Act: newspaper reports, or sound or television broadcasts are prohibited from revealing the name, address or school, or include any particulars that may lead to the identification, of any child or young person under the age of 16 in criminal proceedings. The publication of any picture in any newspaper or on television as being or including a picture of any child or young person in any criminal proceedings, before the Juvenile Court and also the Criminal Court, is also prohibited.
  • Code of Journalistic Ethics: all reports of crimes and court proceedings should be strictly factual and a clear distinction should be made and explained between the facts and the expression of opinion. The naming of minors in court reporting is prohibited.

The findings of the media review of the reports and broadcasts from the selected television programmes, newspapers and online websites resulted a number of trends that may negatively influence the perception of suspects or accused persons as guilty. In this regard, a worrying trend was noted in relation to the use of images and film of the suspect on entering the Court building. Several incidences were recorded in which suspects were led by the Police through a pedestrian area and into the Court buildings through the front doors, as opposed to the back entrance. In this way reporters and journalists would publish or broadcast photographs or footage of suspects being led into Court handcuffed and escorted by a number of police officers. The negative portrayal of suspects or accused persons could potentially influence a person’s perception of their guilt and any future trial.

In one extreme example, a suspect was charged in Court the day after he was arrested, wearing a white forensic suit with his hands handcuffed behind his back. The suspect was made to walk in a busy pedestrian area, escorted by 3 police officers and enter the Court through the front doors as opposed to through the back entrance

Suspect being escorted to Court through a pedestrian street handcuffed and in white forensic suit

The research also highlighted that reporters and journalists from all media types consistently made explicit reference to the ethnicity and nationality of the alleged perpetrators. Frequently, the headlines would use nationality as the descriptor, for example “A Serb”, “Two Syrians” or “Russian with Maltese citizenship“, whilst no further descriptors are used for Maltese suspects, for example “double murder suspect still to be questioned”.

The use of visual representation which shows police officers, handcuffs and otherwise threatening representation of the defendants is also very common to newspapers, online portals and television broadcasters. However, it was also noted that only a few examples in which explicit reference to previous convictions were mentioned, whilst no explicit reference to guilt of the defendant were found in the sampled reports.

In the coming months an in-depth report on the legal framework regulating the use of restraining measures on suspects and accused persons, which also includes practical experiences of stakeholders in the field, will be published.

For more information contact our project contact point, Carla ([email protected]). You can also Subscribe to our News and Updates to be kept updated on this and all other projects and initiatives.

Measures of Restraints