Security at migrant open centres to improve after GWU and government meet

In the wake of Sunday’s riot at the Hal Far open centre, the Home Affairs Ministry and the General Workers’ Union agree on better security arrangements but give no details

Five cars belonging to AWAS employees were burnt during the violent riot at the Hal Far open centre
Five cars belonging to AWAS employees were burnt during the violent riot at the Hal Far open centre

Security at open centres operated by the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers has to improve, the government and the General Workrs’ Union said.

The two entities met in the wake of Sunday’s riot at the Hal Far open centre in which AWAS workers were pelted with stones and had their private cars torched.

AWAS workers protested in Valletta on Monday, demanding better security, as they complained of abusive behaviour by some migrants.

In a short statement on Wednesday, the GWU said agreement was reached with the ministry for better security arrangements for AWAS workers and residents at the open centre.

No details were given but the union said both sides will maintain communication over the implementation of these measures.

On Tuesday and today, almost 100 migrants were hauled to court on various charges linked to the riot. Those who pleaded guilty were jailed for six weeks, while those who pleaded not guilty were remanded in custody until their case is decided.

During the riot, migrants burnt five vehicles, pelted AWAS workers and police officers with stones, and ransacked offices that contained personal files belonging to residents.

The Hal Far open centre can house up to around 900 people in mobile homes. However, migrant NGOs have reported severe overcrowding that is the cause of frustration and tension.

READ ALSO: Hal Far open centre chief commends migrants who protected staff during riot

More in National