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.
Click to Enlarge – Letter from Archbishop Gonzi to Prime Minister Borg Olivier, 28th June, 1969 – Courtesy of the National Archives, Cabinet Papers, 413/51
Antonella and Carla have been busy carrying out research for Burning Bikinis. This week they looked through relevant Cabinet Papers covering the years between 1964 and 1969 with the helpful assistance of Joseph at the National Archives in Rabat. The documents contained correspondence, memos and newspaper clippings of the furore surrounding the “deplorable state of public morals” (Ref: OPM/413/51 Memo 1348, Courtesy of the National Archives) and the suggestions of the setting up of a special branch in the Police Force to safeguard public morality.
Correspondence was also found between Archbishop Gonzi to Prime Minister Borg Olivier dated 28th June, 1969, as can be seen further up. In response to the letter a Memo was drafted and presented to cabinet, an excerpt can be seen below:
Courtesy of the National Archives, OPM/413/51, Memo No. 1348. Click to Enlarge
Although the text was not adopted in full and references to the bikini were removed from the final Memo, the discourse surrounding what was morally acceptable beachwear and behaviour continued.
Furthermore, a number of interviews have been carried to with women active in various feminist movements in Malta in the 1970s and 1980s. These women were the primary movers in enabling the public to discuss fairer family laws, the possible introduction of divorce and abortion in those decades.
This information will be used for the final docufilm which will be released in the first quarter of next year. We are also eager to hear from anyone who was a young women in the 1960s and therefore please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Carla Camilleri, our Assistant Director, participated in a two day European workshop on the Proactive Identification and Support for People Trafficked for Labour Exploitation in Amsterdam. The workshop was organised by FairWork Foundation, Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) and ADPARE and was attended by around 65 expert participants from 24 countries working in NGOs, government departments, trade unions, shelters and research institutes.
The workshop concluded the research phase of the Pro-Act Project which aims to develop effective strategies for pro-active identification and support for people trafficked for labour exploitation. The core strategies that were developed cover 5 main areas:
Access to information, improved detection and remedies;
Access to legal counselling and redress;
Empowering support tailored to the needs of trafficked persons;
Empowering psychological assistance; and
Access to benefits and appropriate employment.
Over the two days, we gave our feedback on the proposed core strategies based on the knowledge and experience gained from the work we did back home. Our assessment and input will then be used by the project partners to strengthen the strategies and pilot them over a six month period in the 3 partner countries: UK, the Netherlands and Romania. We look forward to seeing the results and the experiences gained after the pilot period.
On Friday afternoon, a supplementary workshop on the Multidisciplinary Cooperation Against Trafficking in Human Being for Labour Exploitation was organised in the light of Project Teamwork which is a joint initiative of the governments of Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Malta and Slovakia in the framework of their EU presidencies 2015 – 2017. During the two hour workshop, the participants were divided into parallel working groups that discussed the main issues relating to the various actors involved in the identification and support for trafficked individuals. The role of the police, prosecutors, trade unions, NGOs and migrant communities in the identification of victims and the problems that often arise were outlined by the various participants. Furthermore, best practices on dealing with trafficking through multidisciplinary cooperation from across Europe were identified and discussed.
This morning the full aditus foundation team met for our annual Strategic Planning discussion. This is the meeting we organise at the beginning of every year in order to (1) evaluate the previous year’s activities and (2) decide on the themes and priorities for the present year.
Throughout the morning our discussions covered a broad range of themes, a positive sign of our enthusiasm and eagerness for this year’s challenges! Over cakes, ‘ottijiet‘ and other goodies, we discussed things like: civil unions, child detention, internal trainings, open reception centres, media relations, Immigration Appeals Board, hate speech, office space, administrative support, paternal leave, justice reform, AIDA…and so much more!
In the coming days we’ll be publishing our detailed (and honest) evaluation of our 2014 activities, as well as our choice of Themes and Priorities for 2015.
From left: Neil, Erika, Sarianna, Carla, Claire, Kirk.
“When NGOs speak out, it is done on the basis of internationally recognised standards. We analyse jurisprudence and case-law, look at what they are saying and apply them to the local context.
“When NGOs take a stand and issue statements, they are not just personal opinions. We are so overrun by what politicians have to say that there is precious little space for the non-political voice. There needs to be space to provide that balance to the public.”
These are the opening comments given by our Director, Neil Falzon, to an extensive interview given to The Malta Independent.