Our community is as healthy as all of its members – NGO Press Release on the human rights of migrants in the current epidemic

“COVID-19 is a test for our societies, and we are all learning and adapting as we respond to the virus. Human dignity and rights need to be front and centre in that effort, not an afterthought.”

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

It is appalling to hear Government talk of non-Maltese nationals without acknowledging their humanity and – in many cases – their vulnerability. Recent statements by the Economy Minister are, at best, extremely naive and, at worst, reveal a sheer lack of compassion and humanity. Thousands of non-Maltese men, women and children cannot be abandoned to a situation of absolute precarity. Their health and livelihood must be safeguarded in order to respect their dignity and also to prevent any threats to public health. When the nation is facing such challenging times, words of support and encouragement are far more productive than careless talk of unemployment and deportations. Under all circumstances our humanity and decency must prevail.

Over the past weeks it has become clear that the Coronavirus epidemic is going to have a severe economic impact resulting in large numbers of non-Maltese nationals losing their jobs almost overnight. If unmitigated, this large-scale and sudden unemployment will trigger a worrying chain of events that has the potential of ruining the lives of thousands of people. With migrants’ residence in Malta dependent on them holding a work permit, the immediate consequence of their job loss would be the withdrawal of their right to remain in Malta.

Migrants who until a few days ago were working, paying taxes and social security contributions, renting homes, attending classes and making Malta home will suddenly become “prohibited persons” under Malta’s immigration laws. As bluntly highlighted by the Economy Minister, this will mean one thing: returns to home countries and, possibly, detention and deportation.

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Book Launch: Our Island II: Personal Accounts of Refugees in Malta

There are circumstances you find yourself in that absolutely strip you of all human dignity. It is a painful thing.

When people look at refugees…sometimes they’ve been through so much, just let them be. They don’t want to trouble you. They just want to fit in.

I know the feeling because that’s what I have always wanted, just a place I can say, “Look, I’m home.”


Our Island II: Personal Accounts of Refugees in Malta gives space to 12 refugee and migrant stories to speak for themselves. It presents stories reflecting differences in the time spent in Malta, cultural and national background, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, age, education and profession and family composition, here and away.

Our Island II also attempts to span a wide range of emotions and experiences: the anxiety caused by being locked up, surprise at a Maltese woman’s flirtatiousness, peer pressure within one’s own ethnic community, helplessness at being perpetually undocumented, pure joy at being united with family members, stress due to the constant need to ‘integrate’.

So when we said we were going to get married, some people were thinking, “An African marriage? How could it be nice?” But as soon as they arrived at our wedding, they were surprised at how people were, and at how people dressed…

People wore traditional clothes, and just like my boss, they were all dancing! When African music is put on, you not only want to listen, you want to move!

That’s why it was so much fun.


12 stories: Nicky, Adil, Farah, Michael, Mary, Sekou, Agnes, Omar, Emad, Dursa, Hana, Ousman. Well, 11 stories and Emad’s poem. As you read through the stories, you will be invited into 12 very different worlds. You will get to know our contributors and be given a glimpse of their lives in Malta. They are indeed very different worlds, yet united by possibly two significant elements: the relationship between Malta and all narrators is based on otherness; and their protagonists are, quite honestly, regular people.

Our Island II will be launched on the 10th May 2019 at the Casino Maltese, Valletta. For more information email: [email protected]aditus.org.mt.

Do not disembark in Libya! Press statement by the #DontLetThemDrown initiative

We are extremely concerned to read of on-going negotiations between European Union Member States and Libya regarding the possible disembarkation in Libya of the twelve migrants rescued some days ago. Returning rescued migrants and refugees to Libya would expose them to serious human rights violations, which is a serious violation of international and European law.

International human rights law prohibits States from sending persons to countries where their life or freedom are in danger, or where they face a real risk of torture or inhuman and degrading treatment. Furthermore, in the context of rescue at sea, international maritime law requires that rescued persons – whoever they are – are disembarked at a place of safety. In view of the current turmoil in Libya, which is putting the lives of many Libyans at risk, and of the widely reported ill-treatment of non-Libyan migrants and refugees, it is clear that Libya cannot be considered a safe country in terms of international human rights law or of international maritime law.

In this regard we reiterate the September 2018 conclusions of the United Nations Refugee Agency:

“In light of the volatile security situation in general and the particular protection risks for third-country nationals, UNHCR does not consider that Libya meets the criteria for being designated as a place of safety for the purpose of disembarkation following rescue at sea.”

The undersigned non-governmental organisations, acting together as the #DontLetThemDrown initiative, strongly urge Malta, Italy and Spain to make sure that the rescued migrants are not disembarked in Libya under any circumstances. We urge the three Member States to reaffirm their commitment to fundamental human rights, as international legal obligations and also as shared European values.

We also call on the European Union institutions to ensure respect of these core values, and of the obligations boldly enshrined in the European Union Treaties and other legislation.

Furthermore, we appeal for the immediate disembarkation of the rescued migrants at a place of safety in order to avoid further deterioration of their situation and that of the crew members.


NGO Submissions to the Public Consultation on National Migrant Integration Strategy 2015- 2020

aditus foundation, Integra, Jesuit Refugee Service Malta, KOPIN and Organisation for Friendship in Diversity presented joint submissions as part of their input into the Public Consultation on the National Migrant Integration Strategy 2015-2020 launched by the Ministry of Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties (MSDC).

Our submissions were presented in response to the key areas and questions identified by the Consultation Document, namely

  1. Defending rights and fulfilling duties;
  2. Resolving social barriers and providing opportunities;
  3. Promoting intercultural relations / Raising public awareness on integration;
  4. Civil participation; and
  5. Institutional Dialogue

In our submission document, we outlined our recommendations in order to further develop the identified key areas into a comprehensive national integration strategy. Furthermore, we outlined a number of other sectors that need specific reference in any long-term national strategy on integration, these being long-term residence, family reunification, citizenship, political participation and health.

Specific mention was also made of the need to target the most vulnerable migrants including those at risk of extreme poverty, persons suffering from health (including mental) problems, persons with a disability, single heads of households, unaccompanied minors and separated children, and victims of torture, human trafficking or other forms of severe human rights violations.

Finally, we recommended that the national strategy should be backed up by valid disaggregated data which must be collected and analysed regularly and that monitoring of such is a key in order to continuously assess the implementation and effectiveness of the strategy itself.

Our full submissions are available here (.pdf). It can also be found on our Publications page, under the Policy Input heading.

The Victims’ Rights Directive transposition: securing protection & support for migrant victims

Today we are happy to publish our technical input to the Government on its legal proposals to transpose the EU’s Victims’ Rights Directive! The following is taken from the document’s Introduction, and the full document is now on our Publications page, under ‘Policy Input’:

On 24th October 2014 the Ministry for Justice published the ‘Victims of Crime Bill’, “to make provision for the rights, support and protection of victims, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.” The Bill’s primary aim is to transpose the EU’s Victims’ Rights Directive by introducing the legal and administrative reforms necessary to ensure national compliance with the Directive’s provisions.

The purpose of the EU Directive is to ensure that victims of crime receive appropriate information, support and protection and are able to participate in criminal proceedings.aditusinputvictimofcrime_cover This ambitious Directive provides a significant opportunity to advance access to rights and justice for migrant victims. Indeed, this Directive makes it very clear that all the rights and minimum standards set out apply to all victims of crime irrespective of their residence status.

The rights set out in the Directive are not made conditional on the victim having legal residence status on European Union territory or on the victim’s citizenship or nationality. Thus, third-country nationals and stateless persons who have been victims of crime on EU territory should benefit from these rights without discrimination.

Recital 9 of the Directive furthermore specifies that “victims of crime should be recognized and treated in a respectful, sensitive and professional manner without discrimination of any kind based on any ground such as race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief (…)”.

Migrants, by definition, tend to be prone to vulnerability and exclusion. Firstly, they are more susceptible to be targeted by criminals, particularly in relation to racist and xenophobic hate crimes and crimes against undocumented migrant women and girls. This latter group are often exposed to gender-based violence, including sexual and labour exploitation. Secondly, migrants are less likely to have sufficient knowledge of the host society’s legal and institutional system for them to seek adequate redress and reparation. Thirdly, they usually don’t have the financial resources to bear the cost of criminal or administrative remedy proceedings.

aditus foundation welcomes Malta’s efforts to transpose the EU Directive within the deadline, and to provide a true status for victims of crime in Malta. aditus also endorses the Position Paper released on 11th November by Victim Support Malta (VSM), which points out important shortcomings of the Bill and suggest the improvements that could be made.

This present document expresses some specific concerns on how the Directive, and consequently the Bill, should be read to take into account migration-specific situations. It is modelled on aditus’ experiences working with migrants, coupled with several capacity-building sessions with the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), of which aditus foundation is an active member.