Reduction or withdrawal of reception conditions

Malta

Country Report: Reduction or withdrawal of reception conditions Last updated: 19/05/21

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The Reception Regulations state that reception conditions may be withdrawn or reduced where the asylum seeker abandons their established place of residence without providing information or consent or where they do not comply with reporting duties, requests to provide information, or to appear for personal interviews concerning the asylum procedure, and finally when an applicant has concealed financial resources and has therefore unduly benefited from material reception conditions.[1]

The Regulations state that such decisions shall be taken “individually, objectively and impartially and reasons shall be given” with due consideration to the principle of proportionality.

According to AWAS, cases of termination when failing to comply with rules are very rare and implemented in extreme cases. AWAS indicated that less than 5 persons were evicted in 2020 for such reason.

If a resident has not signed for 3 weeks, their place is reclaimed at the centre.[2]

Asylum seekers may appeal these decisions before the Immigration Appeals Board, in accordance with the Immigration Act. When these decisions are taken regarding reception conditions in detention, it is the Detention Service taking them, whilst AWAS would take these decisions in relation to residents of its open centres. It is unclear how reception conditions of asylum seekers living in the community, and not in any AWAS-coordinated centre, are regulated because relevant legislation does not provide this information and no such situation has ever arisen.

Appeals to the Immigration Appeals Board are particularly problematic for asylum seekers who are detained, as no information is provided on how to access the Board and its procedures. This was also highlighted by the ECtHR in its Article 5 ECHR cases against Malta.[3]

Evictions

In order to deal with the afflux of applicants and the lack of capacity of the reception system, the authorities revised their policy regarding length of stay in the reception system.

Single men are now allowed to remain in the reception centres for no more than six months, while families still benefit from a one-year contract. AWAS indicated that is it working closely with the communities to find alternative accommodation for applicants.

Residents receive a written reminder to leave, six weeks before the end of their contract. AWAS indicated that the list of people evicted is always reviewed by the psychosocial team.

People are entitled to challenge that eviction with AWAS, and the decision shall be reviewed by a care team, although no formal procedure is in place. According to NGOs, AWAS might reconsider such decisions on a case-by-case basis depending on the vulnerability of the applicant.[4]

Families are requested to leave after a year and upon assessment and if needed they can receive financial assistance for the first three more months.

Upon arrival, applicants are briefed about the reception rules and the length of their stay in the reception centre.

Nevertheless, such evictions remain a major problem in Malta where accommodation is very hard to secure due to high prices in a largely unregulated private rental market and due to the fact that landlords are usually extremely reluctant to rent accommodation to asylum-seekers. Moreover, in 2020, the Covid-19 crisis also made the situation more difficult with many applicants not being able to work for several months. Thus, these evictions often result in homelessness.[5]

Several media outlets reported in 2020 that people were sleeping in the streets outside of the capital city following evictions from reception centres.[6]

Moreover, due to the delays in processing asylum applications, individuals are usually evicted while they are still considered applicants for international protection holding only a three-month renewable asylum-seeker document. This makes it difficult for them to find employment and accommodation, with the monthly € 134 allowance not being sufficient to find a place to rent.

Moreover, NGOs reported that it is now difficult for asylum-seekers to have access to shelters and centres run by Appoġġ, the National Agency for children, families, and the community. Appoġġ offers services to children, families, and adults in vulnerable situations and/or at risk of social exclusion, and communities. They also run several shelters and centres to accommodate people in need. In the past, some vulnerable asylum-seekers could be accommodated in such places when no other solution was available for them. NGOs noticed that, due to the current situation, Appoġġ no longer appears to accept asylum-seekers.[7]

In 2020, authorities have constantly and publicly stated that Malta has no more capacity to welcome migrants. The Foreign Affairs minister stated in May 2020 that “centres are full and we have no place for more migrants”. However, it was pointed out by NGOs on several occasions that Malta failed to build the expected new centre mainly funded by the EU.[8]

 

 

[1]  Regulation 13, Reception Regulations.

[2]  Information provided by AWAS, January 2021.

[3]  ECtHR, LouledMassoud v. Malta, Application No 24340/08, Judgment of 27 July 2010; Aden Ahmed v. Malta, Application No 55352/12, Judgment of 23 July 2013; Suso Musa v. Malta, Application No 42337/12, Judgment of 23 July 2013.

[4]  Information provided by JRS Malta 2020.

[5] Times of Malta, ‘Migrants end up homeless as centres overflow’, 2 July 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3tDzPkS.

[6]  Maneul Delia Blog, ‘Evicted Ħal Far residents sleeping rough without money for food’, 24 June 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2NEjPQg; See also, African Media Association Malta, ‘Migrants’ beds in open air Valetta’, 15 July 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3vInlu6.

[7] Information provided by JRS Malta, 2020.

[8] The Shift, ‘Malta risks losing €5 million EU funds for “unbuilt” migrant centre, PM to detain migrants offshore’, 4 September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3vOpIf4.

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