Human rights czar - Hal-Far hangar for asylum seekers ‘seriously sub-standard’

Council of Europe’s commissioner Thomas Hammarberg confirms earlier reports of sub-standard conditions for families inside Hal far hangar open centre.

“Many migrants in Malta face inadequate living conditions and have little chance of integrating durably in society,” the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, releasing today his report on the visit to Malta he carried out from 23-25 March 2011.

The report was released last week by the Justice and Home Affairs ministry.

According to the Commissioner, Malta should establish a human-rights compliant system of reception and integration of migrants.

“European solidarity is key to this endeavour… this means more avenues enabling migrants to move to other countries, but also financial and other assistance to improve the material conditions, asylum determination procedures and integration opportunities in Malta. This is even more urgent today, as Malta has seen new arrivals of migrants from Libya since the end of March”.

The Commissioner also said Malta’s mandatory detention for arriving migrants, including asylum-seekers, was “irreconcilable with human rights standards”. He called on the Maltese authorities to implement alternatives to detention and to make effective remedies to challenge detention available to migrants.

He said the situation in the Hal-Far tent village was inadequate even for short periods of time and recommends its closure. Material conditions in the Hangar Open Centre in Hal-Far, which has re-opened since the Commissioner’s visit and following new arrivals from Libya, are also reported to be seriously sub-standard.

“This is a very serious concern especially as vulnerable individuals, including very small children are accommodated there,” Hammarberg said.

He reminded authorities that vulnerable groups of migrant people, such as families with children, unaccompanied minors, pregnant women, elderly persons and persons with disabilities are entitled to special protection. “They may be detained only as a measure of last resort, not as a rule. Adequate care should always be provided to them. Therefore their accommodation in big open centres including those in Hal-Far and Marsa, must be avoided.”

Hammarberg praised the Maltese authorities’ long-standing efforts to rescue irregular migrants at sea and encouraged them to keep the country’s borders open for people in need of international protection, including those who are forced to flee from North Africa.

He also welcomed progress made in several aspects of the asylum system in recent years in Malta, such as the shortening of the time needed to process asylum applications, improved provision of information to asylum seekers, and the increased rate of recognition of refugee status.

However, further progress was necessary in law and practice concerning asylum proceedings. “The Maltese authorities should provide access to legal aid, and improve access to case files for asylum seekers and their representatives in first instance proceedings before the Refugee Commissioner. Furthermore, second instance proceedings must be made an effective tool for review.”

The Commissioner said he was also concerned by the fact that beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are being socially excluded because financial support for migrants is dependent on residence in the open centres. “All beneficiaries of international protection should benefit from financial support and social assistance.”

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Adrian Busuttil
Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg is being unfair. These facilities are sub-standard because the residents do not have the discipline to maintain them, clean them and treat them with respect. Also it needs to be said that other European countries re not pulling their weight can a) Contributing adequately financially for the upkeep of these facilities and b) Repatriating these migrants and sharing the burden. I have no doubt that Mr. Hammarberg will be singing a different song if these migrants' boats started reaching Sweden - perhaps he'd personally volunteer to clean after the migrants should they set up camp in downtown Stockholm.
They should put signs on. Clean up your mess when finished.
Mr Hammarberg may complain all he wants about substandard housing however he is being unfair. Very unfair. The hangar may be substandard now, but it wasn't like that originally. Had the immigrants been accommodated in five star hotels, these too who have been turned into substandard dwellings in a few months of occupancy. Here is an article by Malta today on how open centre facilities provided for free are treated by immigrants. A summary, washing machines permanently damaged within 12 hrs of being installed. Electrical system tampered with. Shower and toilet facilities vandalized. Clothing disposed of instead of washed. Cutlery thrown away. Wash basins used to wash in instead of for clothes. Now all in a state of disrepair. The problem isn't the facility itself but the way it is used by the occupants. If the area inside is never cleaned and the gutters never emptied it is obvious that it will stink eventually. From the photos themselves one can see blocked sinks and dirty kitchens. Surely they can clean after themselves when they finish. It doesn't require a lot of effort on their part.
Hammarberg ma jindahalx ghax pajjizu tajjeb sejjer u forsi f'pajjizna jistghu jghinuhom il-knisja, hekk u hekk ghandhom hafna flus.
The loud mouth Hammarberg can oblige and take them to his mother home. We would definitely not oppose. Also Sharkozy and Cammeron who so pleasingly patted Gonzi (to his delight) on the back can join Hammarberg too! (Meanwhile war planes continue to come and go, as they please, on our soil and nobody utters a single word)
If Hammarberg has a better accomodation for them, why doesn't speak up clearly? We are ready to send them all to him.
All the illegal immigrants at the Hal Far hangar want to go to Sweden. The best solution would be for Sweden to take them all and make them happy. Why did the Swede Hammarberg not make such a proposal? Is he afraid of being banned from Sweden? Or is he just afraid that the Swedes will take as much notice of him as the Maltese? Malta and Sweden agree in treating Hammarberg’s words as so much hot air.
Why doesn't our Prime MInister address Mr. Hammerberg once and for all on behalf of the Maltese nation. Tell Mr. Hammerberg, that he should be a front runner with Ms. Malstrom to put burden sharing in place among the EU partners. WE the maltese are tired of being continuously criticized by these EU bureaucrats. Really tired.
Why doesn't the EU just shut up! Look at the Australians reply to the UN regarding immigrants!!