Authorities apologize for asking migrant children to show work documents

Nigerian children born in Malta had been requested by the Maltese authorities provide copies of their employment history and rent agreements

Refugee Commissioner Martine Cassar has apologized for sending out the bizarre request to migrant children
Refugee Commissioner Martine Cassar has apologized for sending out the bizarre request to migrant children

Refugee Commissioner Martine Cassar has issued a public apology after her office sent out letters to migrant children, asking them to send copies of their work documents and rent agreements in order to renew their protection statuses.

“Upon the decision to introduce changes to Temporary Humanitarian Protection-New (THPn), the office took the responsibility to inform all beneficiaries who have this type of protection,” Cassar told MaltaToday. “Beneficiaries were given a letter once they visited the office, and letters were also sent to all applicants to the addresses provided.

“The reason behind this action was to give this group of beneficiaries sufficient time to regulate their position. Unfortunately, the letter was also sent to minors and this was an error. The office apologizes for any inconvenience caused and ensures that the letter was intended to adults and not to minors.”

The bizarre demand was revealed last week when four Malta-born Nigerian siblings, aged 20 months, 3 years, 5 and 8, received these letters in the mail. They, along with their mother – who also received the letter – are currently protected by Temporary Humanitarian Protection N (THPn), an ex gratia relief that the government has decided to scrap. The father did not receive a letter, as he has qualified for the more permanent Temporary Humanitarian Protection Status by virtue of his health issues. When their four children were born in Malta, they were given THPn status too. Since their parents have no documented proof of their nationality, the children have been rendered effectively stateless- with their ID documents only displaying their names and THPn status.

“The renewal of your current status is subject to the fulfilling of the current eligibility criteria and the presentation of the necessary documents, namely: An updated JobsPlus employment history, FS3 for the previous year and payslips for the current year, rent agreement as proof of residence, and a recent police conduct certificate,” the letter reads.

If they plan to continue living in Malta, then they must procure a valid passport from their countries of origin that will allow them to apply with Identity Malta for the issuing of a new residence or work permit, as is procedure for third-country nationals. Failing that, their only other options would be to apply for an employment license with JobsPlus or make a request for Temporary Humanitarian Protection with the Refugee Commissioner.

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