Freedom of movement


Country Report: Freedom of movement Last updated: 23/05/22


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Asylum seekers residing in open centres enjoy freedom of movement around the island(s). All persons living in an open centre are required to regularly confirm residence through signing in three times per week. These signing procedures also confirm eligibility for the per diem (see Forms and Levels of Material Reception Conditions) and to ensure the continued right to reside in the centre. Residents who are employed, and who, therefore, might be unable to sign three times a week, are not given the per diem for as long as they fail to sign. However, JRS reported that people who are working seem not to be eligible to the per diem anymore.

AWAS indicated that they are currently working on a new entry/exit system to manage access to the centres using cards that residents could scan on a daily basis. No more information is available at this stage.

Malta does not operate any dispersal scheme, since residence in open centres remains voluntary. Nonetheless, placement in a particular open centre generally implies a limited possibility to change centre, although such decisions could be taken on a case-by-case basis. Moreover, legislation foresees that transfers of applicants from one accommodation facility to another shall take place only when necessary, and applicants shall be provided with the possibility of informing their legal advisers of the transfer and of their new address.[1] Beyond individual situations, movement between centres is sometimes affected by space considerations. Asylum seekers might be moved from one centre to another in order to maintain security and order within particular centres, however this is rare.

Residing in an open centre brings with it entitlement to a financial per diem, intended to cover food and transportation costs. Persons living outside the open centres did not usually receive this per diem. However, given the current situation and the difficulty to accommodate asylum-seekers due to the lack of space in reception centres, AWAS is now granting this per diem to applicants living outside of the reception system upon request.

As already mentioned, asylum seekers arriving irregularly are now automatically detained until medically cleared by health authorities, and until AWAS greenlight the transfer, which can take up to 3 months.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, residents of open centres were forcibly quarantined for several weeks in Hal Far. The decision was taken to quarantine the centre after 8 persons were found positive in April 2020. The residents who positive were put in self-isolation and those who were in a medically vulnerable state were transferred out of the centre to be cared for in a more controlled environment.[2] The army was called to ensure such quarantine was adhered to.[3] This incident did not repeat itself and as far as known. Since individuals found positive and those residing in close quarters with them were isolated from the rest of the centre for quarantine there was no repetition of a centre-wide quarantine.

Cooking areas were also closed because of the pandemic and remained closed at the beginning of 2021.[4] No additional information on the state of such areas was available at the time of writing.




[1] Regulation 13 Reception Regulations.

[2] Malta Today, ‘Coronavirus: Hal Far migrant open centre placed under quarantine’, 5 April 2020, available at:

[3] Mata Today, ‘Hal Far migrant open centre under lockdown’, 6 April 2021, available at:

[4] Information provided by JRS Malta, February 2021.

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