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.
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.
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’.
We remain very concerned that Malta continues to detain children with adults in Safi Detention Centre.
On 18 March 2022, our lawyers appeared before the Immigration Appeals Board on behalf of three minor Bangladeshi asylum-seekers. The three young men had arrived in Malta on 25 December 2021, after being rescued by the AFM at sea following their shipwreck. Shortly after, they had indicated being minors to the authorities. Despite that, they were kept in detention with adults for nearly 3 months.
During one of our routine call to detention in early February, adult Bangladeshis who were detained in the same block as minors informed us of the presence of the children. Our met the three young men on 6 February and decided to challenge their detention before the Immigration Appeals Board.