On 10 May 2023 the Court of Appeal delivered an important judgement on the status of holders of Specific Residence Authorisation (SRA). The judgement made a number of important points that clarify how Malta should be treating people who have chosen to make Malta their home. Our Pro Bono Unit is honoured to have had the opportunity to assist Mr. Ekogiawe in his struggle to secure his and his family’s legal status. It is encouraging for us and for our clients to see justice served in a way that respects their dignity and rights.
Mr. Ekogiawe came to Malta in 2008. After his asylum application was rejected, he was granted Temporary Humanitarian Protection New (THPN) on the basis of his efforts at integrating in Malta. Thanks to his continuous efforts at integrating in Malta, this status was regularly renewed. Since 2012 he has been in stable and regular employment, and in 2018 he and his partner had a baby girl.
“Serbian national Milos Petric has shared his heartbreaking story which has seen him end up undocumented and at risk of losing contact with his 3 Maltese children after his marriage broke down.
Milos first arrived in Malta in 2010, and has lived here permanently since 2012. When he returned to Malta in 2012, he met a Maltese woman who he would go on and marry. The two have three children all under the age of 10.
Speaking to this newsroom, Milos explained how his marriage eventually broke down and they obtained a separation in December 2021. Since then, he’s been trying to secure what is known as a ‘Zambrano permit’ which would allow him to remain in Malta based on the fact that he has Maltese children even though he is no longer married to a Maltese national.”
We will do all we can for Milos to enjoy his rights and his family. Read his full story here.
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.
Katerina*, a Macedonian national and single mother of two young children, entered Malta legally and applied for a work permit in 2016. She was legally allowed to stay in Malta until a decision on her application and subsequent appeal was taken. Throughout that year, her two minor children aged four and six were attending school in Malta and finished their scholastic year in June 2017.
The whole process ended with a final rejection one year later in the beginning of July 2017, after which she voluntarily bought three plane tickets to return to her country mid-July. She overstayed in Malta for merely 21 days, in order allow her children to finish their scholastic year and to get things packed.
On the day of her flight, she was stopped by Immigration Police as she and her children were boarding the plane at Malta International Airport. An Immigration Police Officer issued a Return Decision accompanied by a Removal Order, together with a Schengen re-entry ban** of five years. She was then asked the by same Officer to sign a paper waiving her right to appeal as she was told that if she didn’t sign it then her return might be delayed.
At at that point, Katerina was being held by Immigration Police, pre-flight with her two minor children and was afraid of being held for longer periods of time at the airport. She was in an extremely vulnerable position. She signed the document and returned to Macedonia.
As a result of this, our client was banned from entering the European Union for 5 years, irrespective of the reason for travel. She was offered a web design job in Berlin which she had to decline due her ban and she could not travel even for tourist purposes with her children in Europe.
We filed an appeal with the Immigration Appeals Board (IAB) on the basis of the fact that our client was returning voluntarily, that there was no individual assessment that took into account that she only overstayed for a short period, and that she did not pose a public security risk. In our appeal we requested the IAB to withdraw the ban on re-entry. Our client received a negative decision from the IAB 15 months later.
We corresponded with Immigration Police for over 12 months, requesting a lifting of the ban. The ban was finally lifted by Immigration Police after two years.
As part of our efforts to consolidate our activities and projects, and to work towards a more sustainable and effective organisation, we’ve taken a number of significant internal decisions relating to how our Operational Team is structured.