MPs to visit Safi detention centre

Social Affairs Committee members to visit migrants locked up in Safi detention centre on Thursday.

The Safi detention centre.
The Safi detention centre.

This week MPs will visit the Safi detention centre where they will be able to see with their own eyes the conditions in which migrants are detained in.

Members of the Parliamentary social affairs committee will be visiting the centre on Thursday morning, however the visit will not be open to the press.

The committee's chairperson Deborah Schembri said that the visit will be held to "see whether migrants' fundamental rights are being safeguarded and whether  the conditions at the centres can be improved and how this can be done."

All migrants who reach Malta are subjected to detention. While unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable immigrants are freed relatively soon after, others once recognised as rightful asylum seekers, or after 18 months maximum if they are not.

She also pointed out that the committee will be visiting all centres in Malta in the coming weeks. Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi said that in the coming weeks and months the committee should focus on the conditions of both closed and open centres.

He also suggested that the committee should evaluate the relationship between government and the EU's agency for the management of operational cooperation at the bloc's external borders, Frontex.

"I also suggest that the committee is given a snapshot of migration flows which are impacted by events such as the civil war in Syria," Azzopardi said.

The MP also said that the social affairs committee should review the repatriation process and meet the refugee commissioner and look at the pending cases being processed by state agencies and bodies.

Fellow Nationalist MP Claudette Buttigieg emphasized the need to carry out a study on the conditions of migrant children in Malta and "ensure that their rights are being upheld."

She also stressed the need to meet with all NGOs dealing with migrants in Malta which she said have now created a network although these organisations work in separate and distinct areas.  

Another priority, Buttigieg said, was evaluating and meeting migrants who have settled in Malta and integrated in society.

"We need to understand their realities and convey this to society," she said.  

Pointing out that migrant children are not kept in detention centres along other migrants, government MP Michael Falzon said that this was an important area which the committee should look into.  

He also suggested that the committee collects data on migrants and what happens following their arrival.

MPs.... why not MEPS , Barroso and Ms. Cecilia Malmstrom! Have Barroso or Malmstom ever set foot in these detention centres ?