Adequate support during the interview
According to the law, the Refugee Commissioner shall assess applications from those in need of special procedural guarantees within a reasonable period of time and ensure that such applicants are provided with adequate support throughout the whole procedure. The notion of “adequate support” is not defined further, although RefCom may decide to postpone the examination of the application depending on the case.
The Refugee Commissioner has stated that in the case that an asylum seeker has been identified as being in need of special procedural guarantees, a trained caseworker is assigned to do the interview, during which the caseworker remains sensitive to the fact that the person might be unable to fully disclose details of the asylum claim. Nonetheless, the Refugee Commissioner does not have a specialised unit dealing with vulnerable groups, although a number of caseworkers have attended an EASO training session on the module “Interviewing Vulnerable Persons” in 2016 and 2017. In 2019, UNHCR also provided trainings to seven caseworkers.
Practitioners who have attended several interviews over the last few years indicate that vulnerability may not always be taken into consideration as the asylum seeker will still be expected to provide a considerable amount of detail that they might not always be able to provide on account of the trauma they would have experienced. In the absence of a procedure geared towards identifying victims of trauma and torture, and the emphasis on concluding cases in the shortest time possible, these asylum seekers may be at a disadvantage as they could be unable to comprehensively disclose their protection needs.
Exemption from special procedures
The accelerated procedure shall not be applied in case it is considered that an applicant requires special procedural guarantees as a consequence of having suffered torture, rape or other serious form of psychological, physical or sexual violence.
Special guarantees are also foreseen for unaccompanied children. For example, it shall be ensured that minors are provided with legal and procedural information, free of charge on their application for international protection, and the interview is to be conducted and the decision prepared by a person who has the necessary knowledge of the special needs of minors. Moreover, the Refugees Act provides that unaccompanied children may only be subject to the accelerated procedure where:
- they come from a safe country of origin;
- have introduced an admissible subsequent application; or
- present a danger to national security or public order or have been forcibly expelled for public security or public order reasons.
 Regulation 10 Procedural Regulations.
 Information provided by the Refugee Commissioner, 17 July 2017.
[3 Information provided by the Refugee Commissioner, 17 July 2017. No information available for 2018.
 Information provided by UNHCR Malta, January 2020.
 Regulation 7 Procedural Regulations.
 Regulation 18 Procedural Regulations.
 Article 23A Refugees Act.