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.
Minors being hosted in the Dar Il-Liedna open shelter for unaccompanied children now live in fear of being arrested and detained at any moment following the arbitrary arrest of two Bangladeshi minors by the Principal Immigration Officer (PIO), based on controversial evidence that they were allegedly adults.
The two teenagers had been rescued at sea by the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) and were disembarked in Malta on the 26th of May 2022. They were directly taken to detention in the so-called “China House” detention centre in Ħal Far and declared that they are minors at a later stage. They were released on the 21st of June 2022 after being confirmed as minors following an interview with social workers from the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS) which is the Agency responsible for carrying out such assessments for unaccompanied minors (UMAS).
The European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) released its comparative report on asylum for 2021, drawing on findings from the AIDA reports.
The reports notes that Malta is amongst the countries which implemented unlawful border practices hindering the possibility for persons in need of protection to cross European borders with records of illegal push-backs and refusal to carry out rescues at sea.
The report also notes that Malta is amongst the countries where the family reunification procedure is restricted to refugee status holders and where the procedure is particularly lengthy and complex with many administrative obstacles often hindering the right to family reunification for refugees.
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.