General (scope, grounds for accelerated procedures, time limits)
Article 23 and 24 of the International Protection Act provides that applications should be examined under accelerated procedures where the application is manifestly unfounded.
The definition of “manifestly unfounded applications” reflects the grounds for accelerated procedures laid down by Article 31(8) of the recast Asylum Procedures Directive. An application is considered manifestly unfounded where the applicant:
- In submitting his or her application and presenting the facts, has only raised issues that are not relevant to the examination as to whether such applicant qualifies as a beneficiary of international protection;
- Is from a safe country of origin;
- Has misled the authorities by withholding relevant information or documents with respect to his or her identity and/or nationality that could have had a negative impact on the decision;
- Is likely, in bad faith, to have destroyed or disposed of an identity or travel document that would have helped establish his identity or nationality;
- Has made clearly inconsistent, contradictory, false, or obviously improbable representations which contradict sufficiently verified country-of-origin information, thus making the claim clearly unconvincing in relation to whether they qualify as a beneficiary of international protection;
- Has introduced a subsequent application for international protection that is not inadmissible in accordance with article 24(1)(e);
- Is making an application merely in order to delay or frustrate the enforcement of an earlier or imminent decision which would result in his removal;
- Has entered Malta unlawfully or prolonged his stay unlawfully and, without good reason, has either not presented himself to the authorities or has not made an application for international protection as soon as possible, given the circumstances of his entry;
- Refuses to comply with an obligation to have his or her fingerprints taken in accordance with the relevant legislation;
- May, for serious reasons, be considered a danger to the national security or public order, or the applicant has been forcibly expelled for serious reasons of public security or public order under national law.
Article 23(2) provides that if the IPA is of the opinion that an application is manifestly unfounded, they shall examine the application within three working days and the recommendation shall immediately be referred to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal, who will then also examine this within three working days.
Comprehensive statistical information is not available, as the IPA does not keep statistical data in relation to applications that have been processed under the accelerated procedure. However, NGOs assisting asylum seekers reported an increase in the number of cases processed under the accelerated procedure since 2018.
In 2020, 196 applications were considered inadmissible and therefore channelled through the accelerated procedure
In 2020, lawyers assisting asylum-seekers noticed that the vast majority of Bangladeshi, Moroccan, or Ghanaian applicants were channelled to the accelerated procedure while they were detained as their claim was almost automatically considered manifestly unfounded. They were therefore not allowed to appeal the negative decision. The IPA indicated that in 2020, 238 cases received a decision as rejected since manifestly unfounded.
No information is available regarding the IPA policy on personal interviews in case of accelerated procedures. However, applicants deemed to be coming from safe countries of origin are usually interviewed on the merits.
Their claim is then usually assessed to be lacking evidence of a risk of persecution in case of return. It is only mentioned in conclusion of the assessment that the case is manifestly unfounded as the applicant is coming from a safe country of origin.
Articles 23(2) and 23(3) of the International Protection Act provide that if the IPA is of the opinion that an application is manifestly unfounded, he shall examine the application within three working days and refer his recommendations immediately to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal, who is, in turn, provided three working days to examine the application. No further appeal is allowed.
Yet under Regulation 22 of the Procedural Regulations the applicant is able to appeal against a decision of inadmissibility on the basis of the safe third country if he or she is able to show that return would subject him or her to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In practice, this provision is not implemented.
In practice, all applications deemed inadmissible or manifestly unfounded are examined without a proper appeal because such cases are simply reviewed by the Tribunal without an opportunity for applicants to present their views.
This is particularly problematic considering the possible misuse of the manifestly unfounded concept. The vast majority of applicants coming from a safe country of origin are rejected as manifestly unfounded.
Article 7(5) of the International Protection Act provides for the right to free legal aid for all appeals submitted to the Refugee Appeals Board. However, as the recommendation deeming an application to be manifestly unfounded is automatically and systematically referred to the International Appeals Board, the appellant is not effectively able to participate in the review or to be represented.
 Article 23(1), (8) and (9) Refugees Act.
 Article 2(k) Refugees Act.