The report was previously updated in May 2022.
- Key asylum statistics: The top three nationality groups of applicants in 2022, representing 44% of all applicants, were persons fleeing armed conflict or undemocratic regimes: Syrians (243, 25%), Eritreans (93, 10%) and Ukrainians (92, 9%). At the end of 2022, the majority of pending applications were from applicants who would, at least prima facie, be eventually granted international protection by Malta: Syrians (359), Eritreans (178) and Somalis (166). Looked at in conjunction with figures of new applications, it is clear that many of these applications have been pending at first instance for at least 1 year. It is also noted that all decisions relating to applicants from Egypt, Bangladesh and Senegal were based on the safe country of origin concept, as no substantive rejections were issued in relation to any of these applicants.
- Access to Territory: The substantial drop in arrivals is reported to be a direct consequence of Malta’s involvement in pushbacks incidents and its reluctance to carry out rescues at sea. More than 7000 people in distress at sea are reported to have been ignored by the authorities and Malta was accused of being directly involved in at least 14 pushback incidents.
- Asylum procedure: The asylum procedure in Malta is still characterized by long waiting times and differential treatments based on nationality. The unlawful accelerated procedure implemented by the International Protection Agency (IPA) and the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) was severely criticised by the European Court of Human Rights in a recent Judgement. The quality of the assessment is reportedly very low across all nationalities and the credibility assessment is reported to be excessively relied upon the determination process. Appeals before the IPAT remain pending for years with no prospect of success for appellant. A new trend of automatic, template-based rejections was noted in relation to Libyan nationals and Non-Arab Darfuri from Sudan. The independence and impartiality of the Tribunal remains an issue of concern which has yet to be addressed by the Government. The same concerns were expressed in relation to age assessment appeals before Division II of the Immigration Appeals Board (IAB).
- Reception capacity: With the decrease in arrivals, consequential to the reported increase in pushbacks, the reception system is not under pressure anymore and space is largely available in across all open centres. Despite this, non-vulnerable asylum seekers must exit the open centre at 6 months and this also terminates material reception conditions. Some positive improvements were noted with regard to the reception of unaccompanied minors, but the legal guardianship system is still plagued by unjustifiable delays and lack of independence of the guardians.
Detention of asylum seekers
- Detention upon arrival: Newly arrived asylum seekers are not subjected to a mandatory COVID quarantine since May 2022, but all asylum seekers, including vulnerable applicants and unaccompanied minors, rescued at sea are still automatically detained for several weeks after arrival in terms of the Prevention of Disease Ordinance. During this detention period, no entity is permitted to visit them.
- Detention for the purpose of returns: The Principal Immigration Officer (PIO) continued to implement a detention policy based on the nationality of the applicants, ordering the automatic detention of all applicants coming from countries of origin were returns are feasible. Unaccompanied minors from these countries of origin are still detained pending age assessment for several weeks or months until they are released, or their claim is rejected.
- Procedural safeguards: The ineffective judicial review of the Detention Order carried out by Division II of the Immigration Appeals Board (IAB) reportedly happens in the general indifference of the Board members and the legal aid lawyers appointed by the Ministry for Home Affairs, under which all entities fall, including the Board. The Board is reported to carry out mass hearings where it confirms the detention of all applicants taken before it without any individual assessment.
- Detention conditions: Refurbishments are reportedly under way in the Safi Detention Centre but the authorities have refused to share any detailed information on the matter. Applicants continued to complain of the detention conditions which are reported to have insufficiently improved since the damning CPT report of March 2021.
- Access to detention centres: Access to detention remains an issue for all actors in the field, including the UNHCR, which is the only entity allowed to enter the living quarters of the detention centre and provide information sessions.
The information given hereafter constitute a short summary of the 2022 Malta Report on Temporary Protection, for further information, see Annex on Temporary Protection.
- Key temporary protection statistics: As of March 2022, the International Protection Agency started to provide specific information regarding applications to Ukrainian Nationals who wish to apply for the Temporary Protection under the Temporary Protection Directive (2001/55/EC).3 On 4 April 2022, the IPA indicated that it received 247 requests for Temporary Protection and issued 193 decisions to grant protection. Persons who left Ukraine before 24 February 2022 are not eligible for Temporary Protection yet are able to apply for International Protection.
Temporary protection procedure
- Registration for temporary protection: Applicants for TP were required to make an appointment wth the International Protection Agency, and to subsequently present the documentation showing their eligibility for TP. Eligibility was determined quite speedily, with eligible persons being granted TP within days of their application. Malta applied the eligiblity criteria established in the EU Council Decision. Following receipt of TP, holders could obtain a residence permit from Identity Malta.
Content of temporary protection
- Rights connected to temporary protection: TP holders are entitled to: residence permits; access to the labour market and accommodation; social and welfare assistance on the same level as beneficiaries of subsidiary protection; medical care (including, as a minimum essential emergency care and essential treatment of illness); and access to education for children and teenagers.