“Detention causes desperation and serious harm!”

We are shocked at the lack of sensitivity expressed in the recent statement of the MUMN. Ample research and our own experiences confirm the severe psychological harm caused by detention: it causes desperation and serious harm. These are otherwise healthy men, women and children who are locked up – often without any legal basis – in living conditions best described as awful and undignified. Too often we witness self-harm, suicide attempts and other actions that the Union brushes off as ‘abuses of the system’.

For us, these are not abuses but the extremely worrying effects of a policy that entirely dehumanises people who, very often, are already suffering from trauma and other severe mental health issues. We see such cases on a weekly basis and are deeply saddened that this is the treatment Malta has chosen to offer them. 

We appreciate the challenges being faced by mental health professionals, including within the difficult environment that is Mount Carmel Hospital. Nonetheless, we must underline the need for all persons to receive appropriate treatment for their mental health problems without discrimination or attention to immigration status.

We urge the Union to immediately withdraw instructions to its members so that detained migrants are able to receive the attention and care they need to live in dignity.

This statement is endorsed by Richmond Foundation.

The Malta Refugee Council is a network of Maltese non-governmental organisations working for the promotion of the fundamental human rights of persons in forced migration. The Council’s mission is to advocate for legislation, policies and practices that are in accordance with Malta’s international obligations and best practice in the sector.

Furthermore, the Council seeks to foster an environment that is welcoming and inclusive of refugees.