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.
What does detention mean? What is freedom?
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.
We are sharing the videos on our FB, Twitter and Insta pages. They may also be viewed on our YouTube Channel as also our advocacy page #ThereAreAlternatives.
Do not hesitate to contact us for further information.
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.
aditus foundation recently filed another application against Malta before the European Court of Human Rights. The applicant is alleging violations of Article 3 (inhuman and degrading treatment) and Article 5 (arbitrary detention). In an earlier case, our client is alleging that Malta’s asylum procedure did not give him the opportunity to validly present his claim.
The applicant is an asylum-seeking minor suffering from a medical condition. He has been detained since his arrival in Malta in November 2021.
In the application to the Strasbourg Court, he complains that his current detention is arbitrary and based solely on his nationality. He claims that his detention is based on the fact that he is from a country Malta deems to be safe, and to which removals from Malta are being carried out. He also complains of the unlawfulness of his previous periods of detention on health grounds and of his conditions of detention in the so called ‘China House detention centre and the Safi Detention Centre where he is still detained today.
Following several cases filed by aditus foundation before the Immigration Appeals Board challenging the detention of individuals under a removal order, Malta has started to comply with its obligations under European and Maltese law. We are happy to welcome this development, whereby Malta is now implementing procedural safeguards in return procedures.
In the EU, the situation of rejected asylum seekers is governed by the Return Directive 2008/115/EC, adopted by the European Union in 2008. This Directive establishes a common European legal framework of the minimum standards which are to be applied during the procedure for the return of people who are illegally staying on the territory of its Member States. In 2011, Malta duly transposed these obligations in its national legislation and provided for the same standards applicable in all the Member States in Subsidiary Legislation 217.12, entitled: ‘Common Standards and Procedures for Returning Illegally Staying Third-Country National’.