Words to Action: End the Detention of Children (NGO Statement for World Refugee Day 2014)

“My experience of detention is like being caged – it is traumatizing and an injustice.” These are the words of Farah Abdallahi Abdi, detained as a child in Malta, speaking at an event on child detention at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. Farah’s words are a stark reminder of the profound suffering caused by detention. They are also an urgent call to action.

To mark World Refugee Day on 20th June, we call upon the Government to translate words into action by taking concrete steps to ensure that no child ever again sets foot in a detention centre.

On Freedom Day the Prime Minister pledged to end the detention of children, a commitment we were happy to welcome. Yet children arriving in Malta are still being detained. We also reiterate our concern that unaccompanied minors are often detained with adults pending the outcome of age assessment.

We acknowledge that in recent months there have been significant improvements in both the quality and the duration of the age assessment procedure, thanks to the unstinting efforts of the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum-Seekers (AWAS). However, we feel much more needs to be done to honour the commitment to put an end to child detention.

In particular we urge the Government to establish appropriate non-custodial reception facilities for families with children, as well as for unaccompanied minors pending the outcome of age assessment.

We reiterate our willingness to engage with this and other review processes, and to share our varied expertise and experiences. We pledge to continue to support positive efforts to improve Malta’s asylum regime, and we hope to be given the opportunity to contribute to a more sustainable and long-term strategy.

Finally, a second urgent call to action: We ask that everyone reading this statement consider signing the European Council on Refugees and Exiles petition in aid of Syria’s 2.7 million registered refugees ). To date, Malta has contributed just 21 of its 12,582 international signatures. World Refugee Day, 20th June, is the deadline. This plea simply asks Europe’s leaders “to give refugees a safe way into Europe, to protect refugees arriving at Europe’s borders, and to reunite families torn apart by crisis.”

NGO statement by: aditus foundation, Integra Foundation, JRS Malta, KOPIN, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Migrant’s Network for Equaliy, Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, People for Change Foundation, SOS Malta.

‘Detention: there are alternatives’, joint NGO press statement for World Refugee Day 2013

On World Refugee Day, this 20 June, we call upon the government to look for alternatives to the long-term detention of asylum seekers.

World Refugee Day is an opportunity to recall the plight of refugees around the world, and pledge our continued support for their cause.  It is also an occasion for Malta to look closely at how we receive asylum-seekers and refugees, to ensure that our laws, policies and procedures are in line with our international legal obligations.

We, the local NGOs which work daily with refugees, asylum-seekers and other migrants, reiterate our call to meet the Minister responsible for immigration and asylum and to jointly undertake this assessment.  We hope to reopen the review begun a year ago and establish whether any of our detailed recommendations will be implemented.

“The new government has a rare opportunity to prove that it recognises the humanity of all persons, particularly the most vulnerable. We therefore call on the government to commemorate this World Refugee Day by making its intentions clear and triggering a much-needed review process.” – Neil Falzon, Director, aditus foundation

We are eager to contribute to the process of bringing Malta’s laws and policies on forced migration into accord with its international and regional obligations.

“We are united to work for the better protection of all asylum-seekers & refugees”

World Refugee Day is an annual opportunity to take a closer look at the lives of the millions of uprooted people worldwide.  Fleeing war, persecution and severe human rights violations men, women and children rely on the protection offered by states that are not their own.  Without this protection they remain abandoned, running the risk of being returned to their unsafe homes.

To commemorate World Refugee Day 2012, we undersigned non-governmental organisations met today and agreed on these common aims and objectives:

  1. To forge a stronger common voice aimed at policy-makers and the public;

  2. To share our resources, capacities and expertise;

  3. To jointly advocate with and on behalf of asylum-seekers and refugees;

  4. To share information with each other;

  5. To coordinate our projects and strategies in order to avoid duplication of efforts and to secure a stronger, more effective impact.

We have different identities and are involved in various activities, yet together we gather years of hard and rewarding work, providing services to or advocating for persons forced to flee their homes.  We are happy to share our acquired expertise with the governmental authorities and with the general public, with the respect for the human dignity of asylum-seekers and refugees as our core objective.

This meeting is the first of several regular meetings during which we will discuss our common concerns and identify shared goals, to be brought to the attention of the competent authorities and the general public.


This Press Statement is being issued by the following non-governmental organisations:

aditus foundation, SOS Malta, Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), Integra Foundation, GetUpStandUp, KOPIN, Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, Malta Emigrants’ Commission 

aditus and Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta) issue World Refugee Day statement

Refugees should be at the heart of asylum policies as this is the only real way to ensure the full respect of their human dignity.

This is the core message emerging from a non-governmental workshop organised by aditus and the Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta) on the occasion ofWorld Refugee Day 2011, and of the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.  The event was organised with a view to discussing NGO concerns and recommendations for the treatment of asylum-seekers and refugees in Malta.

aditus Chairperson Dr. Neil Falzon stated we urge the Maltese authorities to undertake a comprehensive consultation process with a view to bringing Malta’s asylum policies and practices in line with international and European human rights standards.”

The discussions focused on three main themes identified as the most important areas requiring short-, mid- and long-term action by the Maltese authorities and the European Union institutions and Member States: detentionreception standards particularly for vulnerable persons and integration.

“Whilst the participating organisations acknowledged the challenges faced by the Maltese authorities in receiving asylum-seekers, a clear concern expressed is that policy decisions are too often based on considerations other than the protection needs and lawful rights of asylum-seekers and refugees”, commented JRS Director Fr. Joseph Cassar. 

The discussions were preceded by expert presentations from Madeline Garlick, Senior EU Affairs Officer at UNHCR’s office in Brussels, and Kris Pollett, Senior Policy Officer at the European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).

In the coming days, the participating NGOs will disseminate the Conclusions from their discussions, with a view to highlighting their major concerns and suggesting concrete recommendations for the way ahead.