Special procedural guarantees

Malta

Country Report: Special procedural guarantees Last updated: 23/05/22

Author

aditus Visit Website

Adequate support during the interview

According to the law, the IPA 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.[1]

As mentioned above, the IPA put in place a special fast-track procedure for applicants identified as vulnerable and in need of special procedural guarantees. Substantiated referrals may be made by any entity, following which the IPA will assess the alleged vulnerability and proceed accordingly[2]

The purpose of this fast-track process is to have the possibility to prioritise and quickly process applications for international protection submitted by particularly vulnerable individuals, who may be at risk of further psychological or other harm if their asylum determination procedure is protracted for a period of time.

According to IPA, a vulnerable applicant can be a minor, an elderly person, a pregnant woman, single parents with minor children, victims of human trafficking, persons with serious illnesses or medical conditions, persons with disabilities, persons with mental health issues or mental disorders, survivors of torture or rape, female genital mutilations survivors, persons who have been subjected to other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence, and LGBTIQ persons.

To be considered vulnerable and to benefit from this fast-track procedure, an asylum-seeker must be referred to IPA by AWAS or by external entities such as EASO, UNHCR, NGOs or lawyers. Such referrals must be accompanied by a medical, social, psychological, or psychiatric report signed by a professional attesting the applicant’s vulnerability.

Approval for the fast-tracking must be given by the Chief Executive Officer, who reserves the discretion not to grant approval and process the case through the regular procedure.

If the case is fast-tracked, the applicant will:

  • Receive information in a manner which is sensitive and relevant to his/her needs;
  • Be offered referral for free legal assistance to relevant NGOs or lawyers;
  • Be offered the possibility for a support person to accompany them and be present during the personal interview;
  • Be informed of the personal interview date well in advance;
  • Be interviewed over more than one time if needed;
  • Be assessed by a case worker and an interpreter duly briefed about the applicant’s individual situation;
  • Be offered the possibility to choose the gender of the case worker and interpreter whenever possible;
  • In the event that the applicant is an unaccompanied minor, the interview will be conducted in a child-friendly manner taking into account the individual experiences and circumstances of the applicant;
  • In case of an unaccompanied minor under 16 years old, effort shall be made to fast-track the processing of the application after a legal representative is formally appointed;
  • The personal interview shall be prioritised and the examination of the application shall be concluded within two weeks from the date of the personal interview, the decision shall be taken within four weeks following the personal interview.

The IPA indicated that 8 persons were fast-tracked through this internal procedure in 2020. However, lawyers assisting asylum-seekers in these cases noticed that decisions were not taken within the time limits indicated in the policy. For 2021, the IPA indicated that it does not keep records of this procedure and therefore cannot provide data on it.

 

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.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5]

 

 

 

[1] Regulation 7 Procedural Regulations.

[2] Information provided by the IPA, October 2020.

[3] Regulation 7 Procedural Regulations.

[4] Regulation 18 Procedural Regulations.

[5] Article 23A International Protection Act.

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