General (scope, grounds for accelerated procedures, time limits)
Article 23 of the Refugees Act provides that applications should be examined under accelerated procedures where:
- The application is manifestly unfounded;
- The applicant has or could have found safe protection elsewhere under the Refugee Convention or the asylum Directives; or
- The applicant holds a travel document from a safe country.
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;
- Has given clearly insufficient details or evidence to substantiate his claim and his story is inconsistent, contradictory or fundamentally improbable;
- Has based his application on a false identity or on forged or counterfeit documents which he maintained as genuine when questioned about them;
- 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;
- Made false representations of a substantial nature;
- Has, without reasonable cause and in bad faith, destroyed, damaged or disposed of any passport, other document or ticket relevant to his claim, either in order to establish a false identity for the purpose of his application or to make the consideration of his application by the authorities more difficult;
- Having had ample earlier opportunity to submit an application for international protection, submitted the application in order to forestall an impending removal order from Malta, and did not provide a valid explanation for not having applied earlier;
- Is from a safe country;
- 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 RefCom is of the opinion that an application is manifestly unfounded, he shall examine the application within three working days and his recommendation shall immediately be referred to the Refugee Appeals Board, who will then also examine within three working days.
Information for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 is not available, as RefCom 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 in 2018 and 2019.
In 2019, 388 applications were considered inadmissible and therefore channelled through the accelerated procedure but, as stated above, no data is available on the total number of applications processed under the accelerated procedure.
No information is available regarding RefCom’s policy on personal interviews in case of accelerated procedures. However, applicants deemed to be coming from safe countries of origin, whose applications were deemed inadmissible and processed under the accelerated procedure, reported not being interviewed on the substance of their claim.
Articles 23(2) and 23(3) of the Refugees Act provide that if the Refugee Commissioner 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 Refugee Appeals Board, 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.
Article 7(5) of the Refugees 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 inadmissible is automatically and systematically referred to the Board, the appellant is not effectively able to participate in the review or to be represented.