“The Ministry’s plans will render hundreds of men, women and children destitute”

Plans announced today by the Ministry of Home Affairs and National Security relating to the situation of hundreds of men, women and children constitute a regression of fundamental human rights for some, and a clear path towards destitution for most. We reiterate our appeal that migrants who are, by the State’s own admission, non-returnable through no fault of their own, be offered the possibility to regularise their status in Malta thereby acknowledging their contributions, securing a dignified life and supporting various economic sectors.

According to today’s statement by the Ministry, on 1 November 2017 all persons who so far have been enjoying THPN, a form of protection that has enabled them to live in security and relative peace of mind, will have their rights stripped off them. The many years they spent working in Malta as employees or employers, forming relationships, paying their fiscal contributions, renting homes and in many cases supporting entire communities in their countries of origin, will suddenly be erased.

The 1 November scheme will require hundreds of men, women and children to comply with requirements the Ministry knows they are unable to meet, including procurement of identification documentation and the labour market test. The Ministry knows too well that for many these requirements are simply impossible to fulfil, as several countries of origin refuse or are unable to provide these documents. Most jobs migrants currently perform would not qualify for migrant employment under the labour market test, and migrants facing particular challenges securing a job – such as women, persons with disabilities or health problems – would be more seriously affected by these plans. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that employers would be willing to embark on this burdensome procedure, possibly opting to employ illegally instead.

In being denied access to healthcare that is beyond emergency, social support and all that is dependant on identity documentation, they will be effectively rendered destitute and subject to further exploitation and abuse. This is unacceptable, and we believe the Ministry is failing to appreciate the human, social and economic repercussions of its decisions.

During our meeting with the Ministry we shared a detailed Paper wherein we outlined our concerns and recommendations for a system that is just and humane. Our recommendations seek to meet the rights and needs of the individuals concerns, as well as the national security and economic interest.

Although so far the Ministry has excluded NGOs and affected migrant communities from this review process, we are nonetheless keen to stress our willingness to engage in consultations in a spirit of dialogue and trust. We hope the Ministry will accept our invitation, and listen to the voices of the communities it seeks to regulate through its plans.


aditus foundation, The Critical Institute, Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants, Gender Liberation, Integra Foundation, International Association for Refugees, JRS Malta, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, MGRM, Malta Humanist Association, Migrant Women Association Malta, Moroccan Community in Malta, Moviment Graffitti, Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, the People for Change Foundation, the Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta, SOS Malta, Spark 15.

Joint NGO Statement on the non-renewal of Temporary Humanitarian Protection N status

We are extremely concerned at the arbitrary decision taken by the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security to suspend the renewal of Temporary Humanitarian Protection N (THPN) pending a review of this status by the Ministry.

This decision has effectively stripped men, women and children of their identity documentation with severe implications on their ability to access employment, healthcare, education and other basic services.

Overnight, and without a clear plan of action, the Ministry has thrown people into the dark about their future by robbing them of the little security THPN provided. The Ministry must be made aware of the human consequences of this decision, whereby rights granted are being unfairly and cruelly withdrawn.

Whilst we welcome, in principle, a review of THPN status, we urgently call on the Ministry to:

  1. Immediately revoke the decision to suspend renewals of THPN status;
  2. Reinstate the suspended THPN;
  3. Engage in dialogue with NGOs, including migrant communities, on the review of THPN.

Background Note

In 2008 the Office of the Refugee Commissioner established Temporary Humanitarian Protection N (THPN), as a form of regularization granted in cases where “a former applicant for international protection cannot be returned to his/her country of origin due to legal or factual reasons, and through no fault of his/her own.”

THPN applicants were required to fulfil integration-related criteria, such as employment, independent housing and payment of fiscal contributions. THPN granted beneficiaries identity documentation, enabling them to have facilitated access to employment, healthcare and education.

To a certain degree, THPN introduced an element of stability and restored some dignity, enabling beneficiaries to play an active role and contribute to Maltese society.


aditus foundation, The Critical Institute, Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants, Gender Liberation, Integra Foundation, International Association for Refugees, JRS Malta, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, MGRM, Moroccan Community in Malta, Moviment Graffitti, Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, the People for Change Foundation, the Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta, SOS Malta, Spark 15.

Non-renewal of Temporary Humanitarian Protection N status…what’s going on?

Over the past few days news has been circulating that the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security is reviewing Temporary Humanitarian Protection Status N (THPN). This is a national status the Office of the Refugee Commissioner (RefCom) grants to failed asylum-seekers who Malta has not been able to return to their countries of origin and who have shown to be integrating.

In practice, this latter points means that, to be eligible for THPN status, applicants are required to fulfil integration-related criteria, including: employment or self-employment, fulfilment of national fiscal obligations, living independently.

Another item hitting the news at this same time relates to the arrest and detention of a group of men from Mali, with a view to deportation. The two news items are not necessarily related, yet we do acknowledge that in the minds of most – especially of migrants – they are one and the same news item.

The aim of this blog post is to share information we can confirm:

What we know so far

MHAS is currently reviewing THPN. We don’t know the details of the review, and can only hope for a better system.

MHAS has decided that, pending this THPN review all THPN holders whose certificates expire during the review will not have their THPN renewed. This means that, overnight, they will have no documentation and will start suffering the consequences of being undocumented.

This constitutes a regression of rights, a potential violation of Malta’s obligations under the International Covenant of Economic Social and Cultural Rights. It also raises questions as to the measure’s compatibility with other human rights obligations binding Malta to respect and protect human dignity.

We can also confirm that NGOs have been wholly excluded from this review, despite our repeated offers of cooperation and dialogue.

We also know that some migrants from Mali have been arrested and detained with a view to being deported. Little more information can be provided at this stage as we have yet to visit them in Safi Detention Centre. We cannot say whether any of these persons were former THPN holders.

As soon as we heard the news regarding the non-renewals, together with Integra Foundation and JRS Malta, we immediately wrote to MHAS

  1. welcoming the much-needed review of THPN status, since we had been urging a reform;
  2. reiterated our willingness to be consulted;
  3. urged a cancellation of the non-renewal policy due to its massive impact on people’s lives.

We are eagerly awaiting the Ministry’s replies.

We have also met with representatives of migrant communities to share information and discuss strategies. They confirmed that many people are extremely worried, and already running into serious problems with their day-to-day affairs.

We will keep providing updates on this issue.

If you have any queries, please direct them to our Director.


‘What does Solidarity mean for Malta?’ – NGO paper presented to Government

Yesterday, during a meeting with the Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, we presented our perspectives on what we feel Malta should be doing in the context of solidarity with refugees entering, or attempting to enter, the European Union.

‘What does Solidarity mean for Malta?’ is a document presented jointly by aditus foundation aditus foundation, African Media Association Malta, Foundation for Shelter and Support of Migrants, Integra Foundation, International Association for Refugees, Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), Kopin, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Migrant’s Network for Equality, Migrant Women Association Malta, Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, Peace Lab, People for Change Foundation, SOS Malta.

We present 5 concrete recommendations to the Malta Government, in the hope that Malta can give true meaning to ‘solidarity’. Below is the document’s introduction, and the full document can be downloaded here:

“The recent weeks have seen unprecedented numbers of migrants and refugees seeking to enter the European Union, largely through its southern and eastern Member States. Dramatic pictures of the situation at these points of entry are evidence of the political instability and human rights violations pushing people to leave their homes, and of the dangers they face throughout their journeys. These are clearly trying times for the European Union and its Member States, when the values and principles we hold so dearly need to stand strong in the face of rising populism, racism and xenophobia.

The on-going negotiations within the European Council are struggling to find those solutions that will translate values and principles into the actions required to ensure full respect for fundamental human rights, including the right to asylum as firmly enshrined in Article 18 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Malta is also called upon to actively participate in these discussions in order to express its true solidarity with those Member States that seem to be unable to cope with the strains presented by the arrival of so many migrants and refugees.

The under-signed 14 non-governmental organisations working with and for migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees would like to take this opportunity to offer suggestions as to how Malta can express and practice such solidarity. At the heart of our recommendations is the belief that solidarity should not be exclusively based on mechanisms beneficial to Member States, but that it ought to be primarily concerned with upholding the fundamental human rights of those persons facing intense hardships and violations.

Importantly, we stress our understanding that solidarity cannot happen if kept limited to words of sympathy or grief. The transition from words to action remains the Europe Union’s key challenge, and we urge Malta to be a catalyst of such transition and to refrain from widening the gap between sentiment and tangible support.”