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.


Lassana’s death: A call to action

Joint Civil Society Statement

We are shocked and saddened beyond words by the confirmation that the drive-by shooting on April 6th which left Lassana Cisse dead and two other men seriously injured was an act of racial hatred.

That the two men suspected of committing this heinous crime are members of the Armed Forces of Malta – a state institution that is there to protect us – makes it even more reprehensible.

It would be tempting to disassociate ourselves from this crime, to dismiss it as a random act, perpetrated by one or two deranged individuals. But we know that it is not, because we daily come in contact with people who are treated as less than human, by individuals and institutions, because of their religion or the colour of their skin.

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5-year Schengen Entry Ban issued against a young mother for overstaying 21 days

Katerina’s Story

Facts

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.

Our role

  • 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.
  • We filed a complaint before the EU Commission for a breach of EU Law, namely Article 47, the right to an effective remedy, of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Articles 7(1), 11(2) and 13(1) and (3) of the Returns Directive (2008/115/EC). This complaint is currently ongoing.

Results

  • Our client can now freely travel to and take up employment in all European Member States with her two minor children.
  • DG Migration and Home Affairs within the European Commission is examining the complaint in order to determine whether infringement proceedings should be opened against Malta.
email from client after lifting of the ban

* Her name has been changed to protect her identity.
**Schengen re-entry ban: a decision prohibiting entry into and stay in the territory of European Member States. 


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Support our legal work!

Click to support us!

Your donation will allow us to:

  • provide, for free, legal information and advice to persons who are are unable to pay a private lawyer or who are unable to obtain a Government Legal Aid Lawyer;
  • file cases before the Courts of Law. Your donation will allow one of our lawyers to prepare, file and follow up the Court application;
  • pay interpreters to allow us to communicate with some of our clients;
  • seek sources of funding that require us to provide a share of the total project amount (so-called ‘co-financing requirement’);
  • pay our monthly office rent, without which we’d be a homeless NGO!
  • keep our staff and interns warm in winter, cool in summer!
  • remain connected to the Internet…and over the phone!