Amnesty – Malta failed to provide protection to Somali boat people

Amnesty International has accused the Maltese authorities of failing to provide international protection to a group of Somali nationals rescued at sea last year.

In its country report for 2011, appearing in Amnesty’s annual report, the international human rights organisation said migrants and asylum seekers were routinely detained, and remedies to challenge rejections of asylum claims remained flawed. It also said that abortion was still illegal in all cases.

“The authorities failed to provide international protection to people rescued at sea, in breach of their obligation not to return individuals to a country where they are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. The authorities also failed to ensure access to a fair and satisfactory asylum procedure,” Amnesty said.

Amnesty International delegates visited Malta in September 2010.

The organisation referred to an incident reported in MaltaToday on 17 July, when 55 Somali nationals travelling from Libya were intercepted at sea by a Maltese military vessel. Twenty-eight were allowed on board, transferred to Malta and eventually granted asylum; the remaining 27 boarded another ship, believing they would be taken to Italy, but were returned to Libya.

“They were reportedly detained for days or weeks without access to asylum procedures and remained at risk of being returned to Somalia where they could face persecution. All of the males were reportedly beaten with batons, and some were tortured with electric shocks during interrogation,” Amnesty said.

The organisation also noted that Malta maintained its system of mandatory detention of all asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants entering the island unlawfully.

Amnesty reiterated that the Louled Massoud v. Malta case in the European Court of Human Rights had found Malta in breach of the right to liberty, as domestic law did not provide the applicant with an effective and speedy remedy for challenging the lawfulness of his detention.

In January, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a report on Malta following its 2009 visit, reiterating its criticism of the mandatory detention regime for irregular migrants and asylum-seekers, the lack of a clearly defined time limit for detention under Maltese law and of genuine and effective judicial remedies to challenge the detention.

“Concerns remained about the right of rejected asylum-seekers to appeal effectively against adverse decisions, due to the lack of independence of the Refugee Appeals Board, the limited expertise of its members, and the fact that its sessions were held behind closed doors,” Amnesty said.

“Conditions in detention and in open centres – and support to vulnerable groups including people with mental illness – remained poor, despite the authorities’ commitment to improve living conditions and recruit more social workers.”

Amnesty also said that in November, the CEDAW Committee adopted its Concluding Observations on Malta, criticising the complete ban on and the criminalisation of abortion, urging Malta to introduce exceptions for cases of therapeutic abortion and when pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. The Committee also expressed concern at the prevalence of violence against women.

More in National
What is the right solution? Send them all back, or make deals? Poll: Should Australia accept boats of asylum seekers from poor Asian countries? Link:
Amnesty International you are so arrogant that now you also wants us to introduce abortion. Amnesty International just shut up and mind your own business. Put your money where your mouth is and take all the illegal immigrants.
Our Government should not listen to biased reports and half truths and more so on our ethical standards. Our small country is under pressure to take in illegal immigrants coming from all over Africa after years of failure by the United Nations in dealing with the huge problems of that Continent. Problems which the departing European Colonisers left behind and problems created by the successive African Dictators. In 2011 the Average African still does not know how to deal with democracy due to its tribal heritage which was exploited to the full by their African Dictators.I consider myself to be a liberal but i draw the line on abortion and no country, organisation or individual should impose on our ethical standards.
Would that mean that the PN is acting like a far right government? I await AD and the usual suspects to comment.
Can Amnesty International please tell us how many thousands or millions of Somali illegal immigrants they want Malta to rescue and host in our country? As for abortion, I leave the NGOs to comment on that.