Freedom of movement


Country Report: Freedom of movement Last updated: 30/11/20


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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 a 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.

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 due to 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.

As already mentioned, asylum seekers arriving irregularly were automatically detained throughout 2019, mainly under health legislation, until space was available in open centres.

It was noted that many applicants released and placed in open centres were released under ‘alternatives to detention’ provisions, even though they had never been issued a detention order since they were detained under Health Regulations. Once again, one could not notice any policy or pattern in the way the authorities decided to release someone under grounds of alternatives to detention.

These measures significantly restricted the freedom of movement of applicants who were required to reside in centres and to sign at the centre several times a day rendering it difficult for them to find employment.


[1]  Regulation 13 Reception Regulations.


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