Not even in death is there dignity for detained migrants – NGO reaction to the Valenzia Report

Red carpet to detention!

Red carpet to detention!

The ‘Valenzia Report’ is a scathing commentary on the way Malta has freely decided to treat men, women and children who are running for their lives. It is one of the most constructive and thorough reports to date, joining so many other reports in unequivocally condemning a policy that seeks to deprive migrants of their very humanity by locking them away out of sight, out of scrutiny and out of human rights protection. Yet we are not shocked.

We are not shocked at any of the statements or findings in the ‘Valenzia Report’. We are not shocked to read of sexual relations between a small number of Detention Services personnel and detained women. We are not shocked because we have been witnessing such incidents for several years. We stress that the majority of Detention Services personnel do their utmost in what is in fact a very difficult working environment, as also underlined by the Report.

We are appalled at the mere thought of this report sitting on a shelf in the Ministry, or in the Office of the Prime Minister, at least since December 2012 gathering layers of dust whilst these violations remained unchallenged, and its recommendations unheeded. We cannot hesitate to express a serious condemnation of every single person who read this report, failed to act and chose to remain silent.

We have been expressing our concern at the situation in Safi and Lyster Barracks, and despite minimal improvements often of a cosmetic nature, our concerns remain as valid and urgent as ever. Malta’s detention regime remains, and will remain, an indelible stain on Malta’s human rights record.

In the wake of Kamara’s death, we welcomed the opportunity to engage with the Office of the Prime Minister in review of Malta’s detention regime. The review process was an appreciated acknowledgement of the urgent need to revise the way Malta receives asylum-seekers in order to bring laws, policies and practices in line human rights standards and obligations. Although we did not fully agree with the review’s conclusions, we nonetheless welcomed the process and were looking forward to taking it further. We therefore recommend taking up where the authorities left off with the review.

Last year’s change in administration brought the review process and any dialogue with civil society to a halt. Despite our repeated calls to be invited to discuss Malta’s detention regime, the process was wholly ignored, its findings shelved and our concerns disregarded. We hope that the publication of this report is made with the intention of implementing its comprehensive and insightful recommendations.


Mamdou Kamara died a terrible death in detention. His violent death could and should have been avoided. This further shaming of his dignity could and should have been also avoided.

Statement of: aditus foundation, Integra Foundation, Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), KOPIN, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Migrant’s Network for Equality, Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, SOS Malta.

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