In 2020 the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment described Malta’s detention regime as amounting to “institutional neglect“.
This is a shocking and shameful timeline recording the known instances of institutional neglect and violence suffered by migrants at the hands of various state actors in Malta throughout the years.
2 Pakistanis illegally detained for over 40 days
Awais Mohammed and Hasan Ali were released by the Court, illegally detained in Hal Far & Safi Barracks for 42 days. It was clear that there was “confusion” as to under which entity’s orders they were actually being detained and on what grounds.
Indiscriminate Marsa Raids
Heavyhanded and aggressive police raids result in regular migrants having doors kicked in and unable to be secured due to forced entry. Police shouted, kicked doors down and used big dogs which intimidated residents.
Immigration Police enter care home and arrest two migrant children
An ultra vires reassessment of the children’s age was conducted by AWAS, the entity responsible for the guardianship and protection of the rights of minors. This led to Immigration Police entering an AWAS-run shelter for children and arresting 2 two migrant children. Both the reassessment and the arrest were found to be illegal.
Migrant woman turned away with Panadol prescription, dies in her sleep
Makame Camara died in her sleep just before Christmas. Relatives claimed that Camara’s repeated visits to the Mater Dei emergency room were often met with prescriptions from Panadol.
6 asylum seekers continued to be held in detention for months after being greenlighted for release
The Maltese courts ordered the release of 6 asylum seekers that were detained at Safi Detention Centre for months after being green-lighted for release.
Man illegally detained for 144 days, Court concerned that people were being detained without a legal basis
A man was illegally detained for 144 days after being rescued at sea. The Court voiced concern over the “substantial number” of migrants facing a similar fate, as it was the 7th time in 2020 that it was faced with similar incidents.
17-year old dies at Lyster Detention Centre
Nebil Abdula at Lyster Detention Centre died of hypovolaemic shock and abdominal injury due to fall from height. The CPT “cannot reassure itself that staff… had reacted sufficiently promptly when crucial help was needed to attempt to save this young man’s life from the effects of suspected internal bleeding over a period of at least three hours”.
Unlicenced Private Security Guard shot migrant with unlicenced firearm at Safi Detention Centre
Abdulrahman Abdullah Hamza was shot with an unlicensed firearm by a private security guard at Safi Detention Centre whilst trying to escape.
April 2019 – August 2020
Held alone in a container for 75 days, 40 of which not allowed to exercise
Joseph Feilazoo was found to have suffered inhuman and degrading treatment when he was placed alone in a container at Safi Barracks for 75 days; and following that period he suffered exposure to health-risk through unnecessary placement with new arrivals in Covid-19 quarantine. Futhermore, the 14-month period of detention with “a view to removal” was found to also be illegal.
April – June 2020
Over 400 rescued migrants kept on the highseas for months on charted ferry boats
Over 400 rescued migrants were kept in detention on the high seas between April and June 2020 in ferry boats charted by the Government.
12 migrants die as Malta uses private vessels to push migrants back to Libya
3 men drowned after jumping into the sea to reach a vessels, 4 other men, almost unconscious from thirst and hunger, let themselves slide down from the dinghy into the water to drown, 2 died during the interception carried out by Dar Al Salam 1 and 3 died en route to Libya.
Handcuffed to a railing for hours after being tasered and dragged on the ground by police officers
Witnesses said that Mohammed Ali was dragged outside by the head by Police Officers at Hal Far Open Centre where he was handcuffed to a metal bar for hours.
6 migrants being illegally detained on “health grounds” released
The detention of a number of asylum seekers on the basis of health grounds was deemed to be illegal by the Maltese courts. Although 6 were released, a large number of migrants were being illegally detained on these same health grounds.
17 year old run down by two off-duty AFM officers
May Malimi was hit by the two off-duty AFM officers that killed Lassana Cisse and left unconscious. He was found a few hours later “in a pool of blood” by two men.
Social Worker, 61, sexually abused 4 girls in AWAS care home for unaccompanied minors
Four 16-year old girls suffered non-consensual acts of a sexual nature & sexual harassment, including repeated requests for sexual favours, unwanted physical advances by a care worker at a state-run home for unaccompanied minors.
November 2016 – February 2017
33 Malian migrants living in Malta for a number of years detained illegally
33 failed asylum-seekers were rounded up and detained, although many held Temporary Humanitarian Protection-N and lived in Malta for a number of years. The Maltese courts held that their detention was illegal as it was based on an abusive decision to repatriate them.
May 2012 – September 2013
Vulnerable woman kept in detention for over 16 months
Sagal Abdi Mahamud was kept in detention for over 16 months, almost a year from requesting a vulnerability assessment from AWAS on the basis of serious medical & mental health conditions. This, plus lack of access to outdoors, lack of female staff and cold, at Lyster Barracks amounted to degrading treatment. The Strasbourg Court also found that the national system failed as a whole to protect the applicant from arbitrary detention.
August 2012 – April 2013
2 minors detained for a period of around 8 months
The Strasbourg Court found that Burhaan Abdullahi Elmi and Cabdulaahi Aweys Abubakar‘s detention conditions at Safi Barracks for around 8 months amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment. Futhermore, the lenght of age-assessment procedures, lasting between 5 – 7 months was deemed to be excessively long, thus their detention was also found to be illegal.
5 day detention period following the granting of subsidiary protection illegal
Farhiyo Mahamed Jama‘s 5 days detention after the granting of protection was found to breach the right to liberty. Futhermore, it was held that there was no effective remedy under Maltese law to challenge such detention.
April 2011 – March 2013
546 days of detention in an immigration context deemed illegal by Strasbourg courts
Ibrahim Suso was held for 546 days in detention pending his asylum application and following its final decision. This was found to breach the right to liberty under the ECHR. Furthermore it found there was no effective remedy available under Maltese law.
June 2011 – August 2012
14 and a half months found to amount to inhuman & degrading treatment and breach the right to liberty
Aden Ahmed was held for 14 and half months in Lyster Barracks, although suffering the effects of a miscarriage and ensuing severe mental health and physical conditions. Her prolonged detention was held to amount to degrading treatment and was found to breach the right to liberty. Furthermore it found there was no effective remedy available under Maltese law.
Mamadou Kamara beaten to death by Detention Services and AFM Personnel
Mamdou Kamara died in the back of a detention service van after being repeatedly kicked in the groin, while in the custody of Detention Services and Armed Forces of Malta personnel.
Ifeanyi Nwokoye died of heart attack after beating in Hal Far Detention Centre
Ifeanyi Nwokoye died on his way to hospital of a heart attack after being beaten by AFM & detention officers.
June 2007 – January 2009
18 months and 9 days of immigration detention deemed to breach right to liberty
The prolonged immigration detention of Louled Massoud was found to be illegal and breach the right to liberty by the European Court of Himan Rights. Furthermore it found there was no effective remedy available under Maltese law.
Police use excessive force against black migrants in Paceville
Suleiman Ismail Abubaker was beaten and kicked by police officers whilst lying handcuffed, in foetal position in Paceville. In the same evening, Kaba Konate was knocked down and arrested by 7 policemen during an argument with a Maltese man.
Excessive force used against migrants in Safi Detention Centre
Detention Services personnel used excessive force during a roundup of the riot’s suspected ringleaders, undertaken 11 days after the incident itself.
26 hospitalised due to excessive force used by AFM during peaceful protest at Safi Detention Centre
The intervention of the military reportedly led to some 26 asylum seekers and migrants being hospitalized.
Forced Return of 6 Somali migrants to Libya, 4 dead
On returning to Tripoli, they were dumped in the desert. 2 died of hunger and thirst in the desert, 2 could not walk any longer and Abdul Hakim Hassan Abudelle & Kasin Ibrahim Nur made it back to Malta. The Maltese courts found the State guilty of breaching their rights.
September – October 2002
220 Eritrean refugees forcibly returned & faced immediate arrest and brutal torture
Returnees were held and tortured over a period of 2.5 months in military detention centre. Some tried to escape but were recaptured; 3 were shot, 1 man died from his wounds. Some attempted suicide. 3 women, deported in advanced pregnancy, gave birth in the detention centre.
The events listed above have been publicly recorded or reported by mainstream media, Maltese or international courts, or by international or European monitoring institutions. The recorded incidents were selected on the basis of whether the identified perpetrator was a public officer, a public authority, or an entity that carries out a public function. They relate to acts of violence and breaches of fundamental human rights such as the right to liberty, the right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment.
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