In October three of our lawyers attended an advanced course on strengthening international protection. Neil (Director), Alexis (Legal Officer) and Mireille (Junior Legal Officer) spent 3 days in Marseille participating in engaging discussions and workshops, whilst also networking with our friends and colleagues in other Member States.
Why do we attend these events? What are the benefits to our work, and to our beneficiaries?
Between 1 and 2 October, aditus foundation’s staff participated to the European Legal Network on Asylum (ELENA) Advanced Course 2021: ‘Strengthening International Protection in Europe and Thinking Ahead’ training organised in Marseille by the European Council on Refugee and Exiles (ECRE).
The training was attended by legal practitioner and members of the ELENA network, which brings together a wide range of actors in the field of migration and asylum. It provided valuable input in key topics surrounding the current legal challenges in migration and asylum faced by legal practitioners all around Europe. Our interest was to focus on alternatives to detention as a key point for legal training.
On aditus’ side, the event was attended by Director Neil Falzon, Legal Officer Alexis Galand and Junior Legal Officer Mireille Boffa.
Specific workshops aimed at tailoring the comprehension of these key topics were held throughout the two days event. The workshops on alternatives to detention was of particular importance to aditus’ lawyers as they are confronted daily with the legal challenges surrounding detention.
Hey all! I hope all of you are doing well! Today I will be writing about something that aditus foundation works a lot on: our work on migrant detention. To help me understand this topic and the current situation better I decided to interview our Director, Dr. Neil Falzon.
To start off, I asked him to explain the concept of migrant detention: “Detention is when people’s liberty is entirely taken away from them.”
As he was talking, I started to picture Malta’s detention as a form of imprisonment. Neil agreed with me, and told me that the detention centres “look and feel like prisons, with bars on the windows, guards everywhere and a highly securitised space!” He also added that “detained persons are not allowed to leave the detention centre and live under very strict conditions.”
We’re happy to present the list of new projects we’ll be working on this year. These projects cover a broad range of issues…from statelessness to sex work from child detention to undocumented migrants…pretty much reflecting the needs we’ve identified in several sectors. Many of these initiatives will commence this year and flow into 2022. They join the projects we started last year, with the entire list giving you an idea of how busy we are but also of the human rights issues Malta still needs to address.
Contrary to what most people think, a long list of projects is not necessarily a good thing. Whilst it does mean that we’re able to address several human rights concerns, it also means that our work runs the risk of being fragmented and boxed within the constraints of specific projects: timelines, ear-marked budgets, constant reporting.
Human rights advocacy, by definition, is very difficult to squeeze into a finite project. Goals are generally long-term, targets not always reached and activities usually involve meeting stakeholders, initiating dialogue and other ‘soft’ elements that are hard to measure, evaluate and report on. Yet of course we count ourselves lucky that we have access to project funds to carry out our work, and thank all funding entities for these opportunities.
We are shocked at the lack of sensitivity expressed in the recent statement of the MUMN. Ample research and our own experiences confirm the severe psychological harm caused by detention: it causes desperation and serious harm. These are otherwise healthy men, women and children who are locked up – often without any legal basis – in living conditions best described as awful and undignified. Too often we witness self-harm, suicide attempts and other actions that the Union brushes off as ‘abuses of the system’.
For us, these are not abuses but the extremely worrying effects of a policy that entirely dehumanises people who, very often, are already suffering from trauma and other severe mental health issues. We see such cases on a weekly basis and are deeply saddened that this is the treatment Malta has chosen to offer them.