Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure


Country Report: Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure Last updated: 21/09/23

Syria, Libya and Eritrea

In 2022, no Syrian applicant was recognised as a refugee, whilst 89 applicants were granted subsidiary protection. Two Syrian applicants were rejected.

Syrians constituted the larger nationality group of applicants in 2022, with 243 applications. Notably, 64 Syrians applicants were found to be inadmissible, probably on the basis that they already enjoyed international protection in another EU Member States..

63 applications were received from Libya nationals, with 6 persons recognised as refuges, no persons granted subsidiary protection and 79 rejected applicants. This reverses the trend in earlier years whereby the vast majority of Libyan applicants were systematically granted international protection. Three applicants were granted Temporary Humanitarian Protection following a rejection on their asylum application.

While no data was provided by IPA regarding Eritrean applicants in 2019 and 2020, in 2022 93 applications were received from Eritrean nationals. Six applications were processed under accelerated procedures. No Eritreans were recognised as refugees whilst 76 were granted subsidiary protection. Six Eritrean applicants were rejected whilst one was granted Temporary Humanitarian Protection.


Bangladesh, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Lebanon

NGOs reported that applications from individuals from Bangladesh, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Algeria and Lebanon are processed expediently from detention and applicants from these countries are likely to see their applications for asylum channelled through the accelerated procedure and decided as manifestly unfounded with a return decision and a removal order being issued a few months after arrival (see accelerated procedure).

As these nationalities are not all listed as safe countries of origin and do not necessarily present a lower recognition rate than other applicants who are not prioritised, it is assumed that their application is fast-tracked due to the fact that they are all considered to be “returnable” individuals.

Forced returns of Bangladeshi and Ivorian nationals have been regularly carried out since 2021 on the basis of the non-binding readmission agreements concluded with the EU in 2017 and 2018 respectively.[1] A lack of cooperation of the Bangladeshi authorities hampered the return process until 2021, the first identification mission to Malta took place between 10th and 15th June 2021 to determine the nationality of roughly 160 potential Bangladeshi nationals.[2] The readmission of Ghanaians, Moroccans, Egyptians and Algerians are carried out on the basis of ongoing negotiations (Morocco) and readmissions clauses (Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Ghana).[3]

Applications from those countries which are listed as safe by Malta[4] (Bangladesh, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Ghana) are reportedly automatically rejected as manifestly unfounded while it is oftentimes the case for applications from the other countries above. Faced with the arrival of Lebanese nationals in 2022, the authorities have adopted a hardline approach to these applicants by also fast tracking the few appeals filed on the normal procedure. The IPAT was able to deliver rejection decisions within a few weeks despite the average duration of an appeal being 2 to 4 years. As of January 2022, nearly all of Lebanese nationals who arrived in Malta in September 2022 were returned to their country of origin after applying to voluntary return, all those who had applied for asylum were rejected.[5]

According to the data provided by the IPA since 2019, the international protection recognition rate for the applicants from the above countries of origin is 1%, with 7 status granted between 2019 and 2022.

Statements from the Prime Minister confirm that Bangladeshi nationals are especially targeted: in 2018, when the vessels operated by the NGOs Sea-Watch and Sea-Eye were stranded off the Maltese coast, the Prime Minister of Malta issued a statement announcing that Bangladeshi nationals shall face an expedient return, after due process.[6] In 2021, the Prime Minister posted on social media about a return operation stating that “Following months of intensive work, a number of migrants without an authorisation to stay have been returned home. Malta is committed to prevent irregular arrivals, share the responsibility with other EU countries and return migrants who are not truly in need of protection”.[7]

This practice is likely to continue despite the recent decision of the ECtHR where the Court found that the asylum procedure undertaken by the Bangladeshi applicant and examined under the accelerated procedure did not offer effective guarantees protecting him from an arbitrary removal.[8]




[1] See EC, Migration and Home Affairs, Return and readmission, http://bit.ly/3QM5Bcj

[2] EC, Proposal for a Council implementation decision on the suspension of certain provisions of Regulation (EC) 810/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council with respect to Bangladesh, 15 July 2021, available at https://bit.ly/3H9USoM

[3] European Court of Auditors, Special report – EU readmission cooperation with third countries: relevant actions yielded limited results, 2021, available at https://bit.ly/3w9eeEc

[4] International Protection Act, Chapter 420 of the Laws of Malta, Article 24.

[5] Information provided by PIO, 17 January 2023.

[6] Department of Information, ‘Statement by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat about the situation of Seawatch3 and Albrecht Penck’, PR190025, 9 January 2019, available at: http://bit.ly/2RXXc5i.

[7] The Times of Malta, ‘Migrants returned to their country after asylum applications are rejected’, 12 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/30Rl1mu.

[8] ECtHR, S.H. v. Malta, 37241/21, 20 December 2022.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation