On Saturday morning (16 December), aditus foundation, Integra Foundation and Jesuit Refugee Service Malta (JRS) officially launched the ‘This is Home’ campaign.
The aim of the campaign is to call on the government for a legal pathway to regularisation for all rejected asylum seekers who have lived in Malta for 5 years or more, and have not been returned to their country through no fault of their own.
Concretely, the campaign calls for this legal pathway to be ‘fair and impartial’, inscribed in law and publicly available, with the applicant’s integration efforts and links to Malta taken into consideration, not just their employment status.
The campaign is borne of the long overdue need to regularise those people living a precarious existence in Malta for many years, though all the while working, building social ties and contributing to Malta as their home. Many people in this group hold THPN, however this status is shrouded in secrecy since the criteria for obtaining it is not publicly available, and it is not even regulated by law.
This means that the Ministry can, seemingly arbitrarily, choose to stop renewing it, thereby throwing an entire community into panic. The fact that THPN is also directly linked to employment also means it is an unstable status, while failing to grant it to a family as a unit creates further problems for spouses and dependents.
Meanwhile, another cross-section of this group comprises a number of people living in Malta without any documents, who have succeeded in spite of these obstacles in building a life here.
This campaign is a very important step towards regularising a community that is already thriving in Malta. As Stella David, living in Malta since 2005, succinctly puts it:
Maltese people already know about us, it is the government that needs to recognise us and our efforts.
This campaign also has a wider impact that benefits Maltese society more generally. As Dr. Francois Mifsud attested at the launch, democracy subsists on encounters with diversity and bringing into the mainstream those people previously pushed towards the margins, and providing them with a pathway to regularisation, can only strengthen our democracy.
In line with its community-building nature, this campaign seeks to engage the efforts of the entire community. Anyone may sign the petition so as to help light the fire under a campaign that seeks to make Maltese society stronger for all.
Post by Helena Agathangelou, Legal Intern