Human Rights Commissioner calls on Malta to move away from ‘reactive’ migration policy

Malta keeps refusing to implement European Court’s decision in Massoud case which attacked arbitrary detention.

The Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights Thomas Hammarberg has called on the Maltese government to move from a from a “reactive, emergency-type” migration policy towards one that safeguards human rights and provides long-term solutions for people unable to return home.

Hammarberg stressed on the need for an overhaul of the system which currently makes financial support for migrants dependent on residence in the open centres. In order to receive a monthly allowance of some €130, which is reduced to €80 for those returned to Malta from other EU countries under Dublin II, migrants must reside in one of the open centres. If they leave the centre, for instance because they have found a job and try to live in the community, the allowance is discontinued.

“Migrants need a safety net on which they can rely on in the likely case they become unemployed,” the commissioner said, referring to seasonal and precarious employment that migrants often resort to, especially since those granted subsidiary protection are not eligible for unemployment benefits. “The requirements for open centre residents to register there three times a week reduces even further the possibilities of finding employment since most job opportunities are located away from the open centres.”

In its reply to the report, the justice and home affairs ministry said it disagreed with the report’s view that Malta’s stance to migration is reactive. “There is a need for further investment in integration programmes, but the country’s limitations cannot be changed... the proposal to detach financial assistance from residence at the open centres risks and can undermine efforts at integration. Malta is already dedicating a substantial proportion of GDP to the upkeep of its system of international protection.”

Hammarberg has also asked the government to reconsider its mandatory detention of migrants and asylum seekers and bring it line with the requirements of the European Convention of Human Rights as interpreted by the Court, referring to the Louled Massoud case.

“Detention of immigrants is lawful only if... arrest or detention prevents an unauthorised entry into the country or with a view to deportation or extradition. Any detention of migrants, including asylum seekers must be in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law and can be ordered only if, after a review of all alternatives to deprivation of liberty, it is concluded that in the specific case there is no effective alternative.”

The Massoud case found that the applicant did not have an effective and speedy remedy to challenge the lawfulness of his detention. But the ministry still disagrees with the European Court’s ruling. “This judgement cannot be extrapolated to other cases where the authorities continue with their efforts to remove the person during the 18-month detention period. The government does not subscribe to the conclusions this report draws from this judgement.”

Malta will be meeting the Council of Europe’s department of the execution of judgements to discuss the implementation of the Court’s order in the Massoud case. “The government is uneasy at the way the Commissioner addressed this issue and would have preferred a more prudent and cautious approach.”

Hammarberg also expressed serious concern at manifestations of racism and xenophobia in Malta and has called on the authorities to “intensify efforts to stem” the development of racism.

He made special reference to political leaders to contribute to the public debate on immigration “in a manner that clarifies the importance of human rights and human dignity” and that the media does not contribute to create “an atmosphere of hostility, intolerance and rejections towards migrants.”

In a report on his visit to Malta back in March, Hammarberg said sub-Saharan Africans in Malta had reported the highest rates of perceived discrimination, with 66% of those interviewed in the EU minorities and discrimination survey (MIDIS) declaring to have experienced discrimination in the 12 months preceding the survey.

“Migrants are discriminated against when seeking employment... access to private housing proves particularly difficult due to poor economic conditions and discrimination. Racial discrimination in access to services is widely reported, with continuing reports of buses not stopping to pick up migrants or not allowing them to board. Discriminatory refusal of entry to places of entertainment such as bars and clubs is also reported to be a common occurrence,” Hammarberg wrote in his report.

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When Europe decides to take burden sharing seriously and they start offloading the illegal immigrants in large numbers, then we may become pro-active, perhaps. It is enough that some of the European partners are making a mockery of our constitution with their war planes coming and going as the please.
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tonfatso it's CMB not KMB. KMB has with CNI collected more than 30,000 signatures in a a few days for a petition urging the Government to curb illegal immigration. Pity that the Party Whips in Parliament have not yet found the time to be presented with the petition. This means they are ignoring more than 30,000 voters who shall not forget that they were ignored and disregarded when election time comes.
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Dear Mr Hammerberg please lead by example!!!
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These do gooders should get it into their head that this war will be won only when it is fought at or as near as possible to the source of the problem. This big problem should be sorted out in Africa. The UN, the EU, the rich Arab countries, the US and the other interest countries should encourage, pressure, aid and do what is necessary to help sort out Africa.
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Dear Thomas Hammerberg. Please take All our refugees and illegal immigrants to your beloved Sweden and you will solve ALL our problems. Please just have some courage and guts to do so and not like your compatriot Maelstrom who led our slumberland minister KMB a merry dance.
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John Azzopardi let's get out of the eu before our nation and culture are destroyed by its impositions and orders to keep all illegal economic immigrants in Malta. Once out we can renounce to the refugee and dublin conventions and send all illegal immigrants back to their own countries.
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The Swedes always remind me of Nobel who invented dynamite,- is responsible for the dead of millions of people- and to appease his conscience and 'do good' credentials, set up the Nobel Price for peace! This is what Orwell would have called 'double speak' diplomacy.
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The latest news is that to comply with the recommendations of the Swede Hammarberg, Sweden has offered to take 10 000 of our refugees and illegal immigrants. All illegal immigrants wishing to go to Sweden are invited to write to the Swede Hammarberg or to the Swede Cecilia Malmstrom, who will be in Malta in two weeks, and they will be given a free air ticket to Stockholm and free lessons in the Swedish language. In Sweden they will have full access to Swedish social security, the most generous in the world, just the same as if they were born in Sweden. Indeed Sweden will be organising direct charter flights from Libya to Stockholm so that sub Saharan Africans can fly directly to the northern paradise-on-earth without having to take the dangerous boat trip. However there is a little snag. This commitment by Sweden has to be approved by the Swedish people in a referendum.
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Why do we have to listen to an imbecil like Mr.Hammarberg. He is not Malta and we don't need to hear his whining. If he wants to help, he will take the thousands of illegal migrants off our hands. Malta is too full for even one more person. What happens when Malta goes into economic crisis. Who will help Malta then. MAlta needs to protect its security, identity and culture at all times. WE the vast majority of Maltese are tired of having an EU bureaucrate diictate to us what we should do. Enough already.
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If I'm not mistaken,Louled Massoud was arraigned in the Maltese Courts found guilty for human trafficking.....
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Dear Mr.Hammarberg, charity begins at home! Its time for your country to start having a piece of this cake.....lets say start building open centers in Stockholm and to accommodate these immigrants!! You should act before criticizing our country, who has done a lot to these people...
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Hammarberg put your money where your big mouth is and take all our illegal immigrants to your won country. Also provide the means where any illegal immigrant that either lands in or is brought to Malta will automatically be forwarded to your own country.
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To the human rights commissioner we say: why are you pointing your finger at us? Are we to become europe's dumping ground for illegal immigrants? Our small country cannot absolutely afford to be filled with illegal immigrants our size is too small. This commissioner should look at other larger european countries that are doing nothing and not condem Malta!!!
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Raymond Falzon
I have two words for these guy but i do not think they are printable
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It's so easy to criticise other countries when yours hasn't got any problems and never offers to help a country such as ours. Log on: https://mazzun.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/it-tabella-tal-kuxjenza-ipokrita/
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The Swede Hammarberg, like the Swede Cecillia Malmstrom, has a ready made solution for all Malta's problems with illegal immigrants - except one. They never offer to take them all to Sweden. All the illegal immigrants in Malta would love to have the opportunity to settle in Sweden, that paradise of human rights. But Sweden, like all other EU countries, refuses to take them. Germany and France have taken a few off our back. Sweden has taken ZERO. Hammarberg, words are easy. Action is difficult. So keep your words to yourself.