The story of two LGBTIQ+ clients: Ali & Ashraf
Ali and Ashraf* are two vulnerable LGBTIQ+ individuals, who faced sexual violence in their countries of origin as well as during their journey to Europe. They were referred to us by their social workers and doctors who they grew to trust over the course of a few months. Both Ali and Ashraf came from what are deemed to be “safe countries“** of origin.
On arrival in Malta they applied for asylum and were passed through a fast-tracked procedure due to the fact that they came from “safe countries”. The procedure was carried out when both, although extremely vulnerable, were being detained in Safi Detention Centre. They were not given any information prior to the asylum interview. Consequently, they did not mention that they are LGBTIQ+ individuals in fear of the consequences of making such statements, being unware of Malta’s position on the matter, and also in fear that they could be at risk of harassment or violence should the other detainees find out.
Their applications were rejected as manifestly unfounded and both Ali and Ashraf were given a removal order and return decision with a view to deportation. Through this procedure the only “remedy” available is for the appeals tribunal to carry out an automatic and internal review without the chance or time for the clients to give submissions or to be heard***.
What did we do?
- We filed a subsequent application in hope to get their claim’s reassessed.
- Ashraf is still awaiting feedback from the International Protection Agency (IPA) and is living in a state of fear of returning to his country of origin.
- Ali’s second application was again found to be manifestly unfounded due to the IPA finding inconsistencies with his statements, inspite of reports from various professionals supporting his claim.
- We filed a second subsequent application for Ali, who is also fearing for his life if he is returned to his counry of origin.
The law is not providing for the proper safeguards
The presence of a number of countries on the “safe country” list that discriminate and criminalise LGBTIQ+ individuals, results in Malta not granting proper safeguards for those individuals that are fleeing persecution on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. There is a simple and fast way to remedy this situation: remove those countries from the “safe country” list under Maltese law.
Individuals who pass through the fast-tracked procedure are usually detained, with limited access to lawyers and NGOs. Futhermore, LGBTIQ+ detainees are placed in a position of risk due to the fact that they could face harassment and violence from other detainees themselves. Applications from persons who come from the so-called safe countries are fast-tracked and routinely rejected, without there being a proper individual assessment of the claims.
All this is of particular importance for LGBTIQ+ individuals, who if rejected, will be returned to face punishment, discrimination, harassment or in some cases, even death in their “safe” countries of origin.
Email Mireille for more information.
*Names have been changed to protect the clients’ identities.
**”Safe countries of origin listed in Schedule1 of the International Protection Act. Amongst these countries are Algeria, Bangladesh, Bening, Botswana, Chile, Egypt, Ghana, Jamaica, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia which penalise and criminalise LGBTIQ+ individuals.
*** Statistics confirm that in the majority of cases the appeals Tribunal simply confirms the IPA’s decisions.