The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) released the Fundamental Rights Report 2022 that assesses the key developments in the areass of fundamental rights from 2021, achievements and shortcomings. The report dives into many areas, with Malta featuring many times for the country’s shortcomings in the protection of fundamental rights, and for its achievements. This blogpost gives an overview of how Malta features in the FRA report, providing an interesting insight into human rights in Malta in 2021.
The report begins by discussing social rights and equality post-Covid-19 Pandemic, highlighting Malta’s plan to assess its unemployment benefit’s system, and to fund technological advancements to promote access to health care. Malta, among other EU Member States, plans to promote the active participation of persons with disabilities in social life through the recovery and Resilience Facility.
The report mentions the plan for an NHRI to replace the current National Commission for the Promotion of Equality for Men and Women. Malta was also praised for their recent inclusion of sexual orientation, racial origin and religion in the data collected by the Census of Population and Housing 2021. FRA reported that EU citizens and family members experience discrimination on the basis of their nationality where non-Maltese EU citizens are required to present pay-slips as proof of social security before receiving treatment from public healthcare providers, whereas Maltese citizens are only asked to present identity cards.
Malta Refugee Council Statement on World Refugee Day 2022
Malta in 2022 offers an extremely hostile environment to refugees reaching our shores. The Government refuses to explain why they are abandoned out at sea, either not rescued or not allowed to safely disembark. Hundreds are detained in squalid conditions and on dubious legal grounds in what international human rights bodies described as “institutional mass neglect”. New detention rules dramatically limit their possibility of receiving needed information and support. Measures adopted by the Government in eagerness to speed up an under-resourced asylum procedure limit the opportunity for persons to fully explain why they are in need of protection, whilst the care provided to the most vulnerable is – at most – basic. Dialogue between the Government and civil society, including refugee-led groups, has been effectively closed.
Never before has refugee protection been so challenging.
On World Refugee Day 2022 the Malta Refugee Council appeals to Malta to be place of shelter for those men, women and children forced to flee their homes. Whether fleeing the war in Ukraine, discriminatory laws in Nigeria or ethnic conflict in South Sudan, all refugees share the same need for safety, protection and dignity.
This is how we approached the project ‘Detained Narratives’. We wanted to give a voice to those people Malta chooses to lock up in squalid living conditions, in a system that in many cases is illegal.
Three young men agreed to talk about their experiences. Many others were too traumatised. Most were afraid.
Their voices expose Malta’s immigration detention regime. Concise yet powerful, the three clips we are disseminating provide a glimpse into the lived experiences of young men detained in Safi Barracks under a policy widely condemned by international, European and Maltese human rights bodies.
On 29 April 2022, three Bangladeshi individuals were released from the Ħal Safi Detention Centre. Nashir, Hussain and Shumon were freed three days beyond the maximum permissible period of 18 months. The extra days they spent in Ħal safi were in breach of their rights as prescribed by both EU and national law. They had arrived in Malta in 2019 and had been in detention ever since. This post provides an overview of how we intervene when maximum detention limits are exceeded.
In Malta, it is common practice to automatically detain asylum-seekers from countries where returns are generally feasible. Usually they are nationals of countries listed as ‘safe’, but this is not always the case. These situations often result in total detention periods exceeding two years. This was the case for Nashir, Hussain and Shumon. They were detained upon arrival in December 2019, throughout their asylum procedure. Once the asylum authorities rejected their asylum claim, they were immediately issued with a return decision and removal order for them to be repatriated. They were only released in April 2022.
Six years ago, the Women’s Rights Foundation successfully campaigned for the introduction of emergency contraception by filing a judicial protest on behalf of 102 women in Malta.
Since then, we never looked back, and we are now taking our advocacy for sexual and reproductive rights to the courts of law once again.
We are standing here, together with the organisations that form the coalition ‘Voice for Choice’ and other supporters, on behalf of one hundred and eighty-eight (188) persons of childbearing age, who could all potentially get pregnant, who have just filed a judicial protest against the Minister of Health, the Parliamentary Secretary for Equality and Reforms and the State Advocate for breaching their fundamental human rights.
Abortion bans do not change the fact that abortion is a necessary health service and banning abortion does not stop it from happening.
In fact, as we know all too well, every day, a woman in Malta has an abortion, yet we remain the only nation in the EU that criminalises these women and does not allow the procedure to take place safely and legally, irrespective of the circumstances.
This blatant violation of human rights by the state, comes at the cost of women’s physical, mental, and social health as women continue to live in fear, stigma, and shame in our society.
Among us, the one hundred and eighty-eight (188) persons who have signed this judicial protest are persons who have had an abortion, for various circumstances, in various countries and using various methods, some less safe than others.
Among us there are also persons who had to go through a forced pregnancy, at the detriment to their physical or mental health.
Among us there are persons who were raped or sexually abused and were terrified that a pregnancy would result from that abuse, knowing full well that instead of finding support, they would find condemnation if they had an abortion.
Among us there are also persons who have health conditions who live with the fear that an accidental pregnancy could have serious implications for their wellbeing.
We, the one hundred and eighty-eight persons who have signed this judicial protest come from all walks of life with ages that vary from 18 to 50.
There are those among us who are mothers who want a better future for their children, while some of us are young and are looking towards a brighter future. This is an issue that transcends age.
There are those among us who are professionals: teachers, lawyers, social workers, psychologists, doctors and nurses, while some of us are students, labourers, and home makers. This is an issue that transcends social class.
There are those among us who identify as lesbian women, gender non-binary persons or trans men. This is an issue for the LGBT community too.
There are those among us who have a disability whether visible or not. This is an issue for persons with disabilities too.
There are those among us who come from countries where women are persecuted daily and hoped to find a better life in a developed European country and instead were faced with a different kind of persecution. This is an issue for migrant communities too.
There are those among us who support the Labour Party, those who support the Nationalist party, those who support ADPD or Volt, and those among us who have no political affiliation. Because this issue transcends political beliefs and allegiances.
In the last decades Malta has made great strides to be a more inclusive society. The current government prides itself of this fact. It is therefore time that the laws related to abortion are addressed to reflect the reality of people’s lives. Women, girls and any person who could become pregnant who needs to terminate their pregnancy for any reason are not second-class citizens.
We are therefore here to ensure that all persons who could get pregnant, irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, social class, religious or political beliefs, ability or age are supported, respected and protected whatever their circumstances and decisions.
The political class of this country had every chance to do what is right and our pleas have been ignored for too long. We are pledging today that this judicial protest is only the first step. We are ready to take our battle to the courts of law, both local and European, and we will be heard. We will not be ignored. Not anymore.
This press release is endorsed by the following organisations:
Sitt snin ilu, il-Fondazzjoni għad-Drittijiet tan-Nisa nediet b’suċċess kampanja għall-introduzzjoni ta’ kontraċezzjoni ta’ emerġenza permezz ta’ protest ġudizzjarju f’isem mija u żewġ nisa f’Malta.
Minn dak iż-żmien ‘l hawn, qatt ma ħarisna lura, u issa qed nerġgħu nirrikorru għall-qorti fl-attiviżmu tagħna.
Qegħdin hawn, flimkien mal-għaqdiet li jiffurmaw il-koalizzjoni ‘Voice for Choice’ u attivisti oħra, f’isem mija u tmienja u tmenin (188) persuna, li kollha potenzjalment jistgħu joħorġu tqal, li għadhom kif ressqu protest ġudizzjarju kontra l- Ministru tas-Saħħa, is-Segretarja Parlamentari għall-Ugwaljanza u Riformi u l-Avukat tal-Istat għall-ksur tad-drittijiet umani fundamentali tagħna.
Il-projbizzjoni tal-abort ma tbiddilx il-fatt li l-abort huwa servizz tas-saħħa bżonnjuż u l-liġi tal-abort ma twaqqfux milli jseħħ.
Fil-fatt, kif nafu sew, kuljum, mara f’Malta tagħmel abort, u Malta hi l-uniku pajjiż fl-UE li tikkriminalizza lil dawn in-nisa u ma tħallix il-proċedura ssir b’mod sigur u legali, irrispettivament miċ- ċirkostanzi.
Dan il-ksur sfaċċat tad-drittijiet umani mill-istat, iseħħ għall-iskapitu tas-saħħa fiżika, mentali u soċjali tan-nisa hekk kif in-nisa jkomplu jgħixu fil-biża’, l-istigma u l-mistħija fis-soċjetà tagħna.
Fostna, il-mija u tmienja u tmenin (188) persuna li ffirmaw dan il-protest ġudizzjarju hemm persuni li għamlu abort għal raġunijiet varji, f’pajjiżi varji, f’ċirkustanzi varji, uħud iktar siguri minn oħrajn.
Fostna hemm ukoll persuni li kellhom jgħaddu minn tqala sfurzata għad-detriment tas-saħħa fiżika u mentali tagħhom
Xi wħud minna ġew stuprati jew abbużati sesswalment u kienu mwerwrin li joħorġu tqal minn dak l-abbuż, meta kienu jafu sew li minflok ħa jsibu appoġġ, se jsibu kundanna jekk jagħmlu abort.
Fostna hemm ukoll persuni b’kundizzjoni ta’ saħħa li jgħixu bil-biża’ li tqala aċċidentali jista’ jkollha implikazzjonijiet serji għal saħħithom.
Aħna, il-mija u tmienja u tmenin (188) persuna li ffirmajna dan il-protest ġudizzjarju ġejjin minn kull qasam tal-ħajja b’etajiet li jvarjaw minn 18 sa 50 sena.
Fostna hemm dawk li huma ommijiet li jridu futur aħjar għal uliedhom, filwaqt li wħud minna huma żgħar u qed iħarsu lejn futur isbaħ. Din hija kwistjoni li tmur lil hinn mill-età.
Fostna hemm dawk li huma professjonisti: għalliema, avukati, ħaddiema soċjali, psikologi, tobba u infermiera, filwaqt li xi wħud minna huma studenti, ħaddiema, u nisa tad-dar. Din hija kwistjoni li tmur lil hinn mill-klassi soċjali.
Hemm dawk fostna li jidentifikaw bħala nisa lesbjani, persuni gender non-binary jew irġiel trans. Din hija kwistjoni li tolqot lill-komunità LGBT ukoll.
Hemm dawk fostna li għandhom diżabilità sew jekk viżibbli jew le. Din hija kwistjoni li tolqot lill-persuni b’diżabbilta’ wkoll.
Xi wħud minna ġejjin minn pajjiżi fejn in-nisa jiġu ppersegwitati kuljum u ġew Malta b’tama li jsibu ħajja aħjar f’pajjiż żviluppat Ewropew u minflok kienu ffaċċjati b’tip differenti ta’ persekuzzjoni. Din hija kwistjoni li tolqot lill-komunitajiet tal-immigranti wkoll.
Fostna hemm min jappoġġja lill-Partit Laburista, min jappoġġja lill-partit Nazzjonalista, min jappoġġja lill-ADPD u lil Volt, u min fostna li m’għandux affiljazzjoni politika. Għax din il-kwistjoni li tmur lil hinn mit-twemmin u l-lealtàjiet politiċi.
Matul l-aħħar snin, Malta għamlet passi kbar biex tkun soċjetà aktar inklużiva. Il-gvern attwali jiftaħar b’dan il-fatt. Għalhekk wasal iż-żmien li l-liġijiet relatati mal-abort jiġu indirizzati biex jirriflettu r-realtà tal-ħajja kurrenti. In-nisa, il-bniet u kull persuna li tista’ tinqabad tqila li għandhom bżonn jitterminaw it-tqala għal kwalunkwe raġuni mhumiex ċittadini tat-tieni klassi.
Għalhekk qegħdin hawn biex niżguraw li l-persuni kollha li jistgħu joħorġu tqal, irrispettivament mis-sess, l-etniċità, is-sesswalità, it-twemmin reliġjuż jew politiku, l-abbilta’, il-klassi soċjali jew l-età tagħhom ikunu appoġġjati, rispettati u protetti jkunu xi jkunu ċ-ċirkostanzi u d-deċiżjonijiet tagħhom.
Il-klassi politika ta’ dan il-pajjiż kellhom kull ċans li jagħmlu dak li hu sewwa u t-talbiet tagħna ilhom jiġu injorati. Illum qed inwiegħdu li dan il-protest ġudizzjarju huwa biss l-ewwel pass. Aħna lesti nieħdu l-battalja tagħna quddiem il-qrati, kemm lokali kif ukoll Ewropej. Daqshekk ġejna njorati. Wasal iż-żmien li ninstemgħu.
Din l-istqarrija għall-istampa hi approvata minn dawn l-organizzazzjonijiet: