Malta urged to do more on migrant integration by Council of Europe anti-racism body

Council of Europe's anti-racism commission says refugees in Malta remain the 'most vulnerable and marginalised group' as it urges country to adopt integration policy that includes learning English and Maltese and the possibility to grant migrants citizenship

Refugees are most marginalised group, with little interaction with Maltese society and prone to exploitation on the workplace
Refugees are most marginalised group, with little interaction with Maltese society and prone to exploitation on the workplace

Malta should remove “unnecessarily harsh conditions” for long-term residence status of migrants and encourage full integration, a Council of Europe human rights monitoring body is recommending.

In its latest report on Malta, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), which is part of the 47-nation Council of Europe, also recommends that Malta broaden the list of persons eligible for family reunification when dealing with migrants.

It painted a poor picture of refugees, describing them as “the most vulnerable and marginalised group” in Malta, despite significant progress in other fields over the past five years.

Malta has some of the most unfavourable conditions for naturalisation in the EU Council of Europe anti-racism body

“Malta has some of the most unfavourable conditions for naturalisation in the EU,” ECRI said, adding there is little systematic state provision of language or cultural support for adult migrants.

Malta also has no long-term integration strategy targeting refugees and beneficiaries of ‘local’ forms of protection.

In a series of recommendations, the commission floated the idea that a migrant integration strategy should consider electoral rights and citizenship.

“A strategy for the integration of all migrants should be adopted as soon as possible… To encourage full integration, the strategy should address language acquisition in English and Maltese, and cover reasonable and achievable ways to obtain long-term residence status, as well as electoral rights and eventually Maltese citizenship,” ECRI recommends.

These recommendations form part of a 43-page report that follows on a similar monitoring exercise undertaken in June 2013.

The human rights body noted that progress was made in a number of fields in the last five years, including “impressive advances in equality for LGBT persons in particular”.

Read also: Malta strengthens top spot in European equality ranking for LGBTI people

But ECRI said that despite the progress achieved, some issues still give rise to concern, inclusive of migrant-related matters.
The commission urged government to deliver a “clear message” to the public that integration is “a two-way process for both migrants and the majority population”.

It recommends that the acquisition of long-term residence status be made easier with the removal of the requirement to provide evidence of accommodation that is not shared with non-family members.

“Efforts to prevent labour exploitation should be intensified by systematically providing refugees with information on their rights in employment and on how to report abuses,” ECRI said.

Migrants with no possibility of returning back to their country should be regularised after living on the island for more than 10 years
Migrants with no possibility of returning back to their country should be regularised after living on the island for more than 10 years

On persons caught up in Malta with no possibility of returning back to their country of origin, ECRI recommends the authorities consider a more permanent form of regularisation for those who have resided on the island for more than 10 years.

However, the report also calls on the authorities to create a mechanism for collecting specific data on hate crime incidents, including hate speech, on grounds of race, colour, language, religion, ethnic origin, citizenship, sexual orientation and gender identity.

ECRI also proposes more training for police, prosecutors and judges in order to ensure a   more   effective  fight   against   racist  and homo/transphobic hate crimes, including violence.

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