Reduction or withdrawal of reception conditions

Malta

Country Report: Reduction or withdrawal of reception conditions Last updated: 30/11/20

Author

JRS Malta Visit Website

The Reception Regulations state that reception conditions may be withdrawn or reduced where the asylum seeker abandons the established place of residence without providing information or consent or does not comply with reporting duties or with requests to provide information or to appear for personal interviews concerning the asylum procedure.

The law does not define when a place is considered abandoned. However, practice shows that this is the case where a resident:[1]

  • Fails to sign the residence sheet for a set number of times without a valid excuse;
  • Does not comply with reporting duties;
  • Fails to appear for the asylum interview; or
  • Has concealed financial resources.

If a resident has not signed for 15 days their place is reclaimed at the centre.[2]

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.

In 2019, due to the lack of space in reception centres, it had been noticed by NGOs that the authorities acted in a stricter manner with people who did not respect the centres’ rules and did not sign as required.[3]  These persons were then evicted from the reception centre with no regard taken for their status or situation (as described below).   

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 as 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.[4]

Evictions

In the summer of 2019, evictions from reception centres were stepped up in order to make space for applicants released from detention. Whilst the exact number of persons evicted is unknown, it has been reported that AWAS evicted dozens of migrants, whose asylum applications are still on-going, from the Ħal Far Tent Village, one of the main reception centres on the island, in order to make way for new arrivals. Authorities explained at the time that reception centres are meant to facilitate migrants’ transition into society and not to provide permanent hospitality[5]

According to NGOs assisting migrants, evictions are conducted in a seemingly random way and no organisation or pattern was noticed. According to AWAS, applicants are allowed to stay between nine and 12 months in the reception system. In previous years, as space was available, applicants were allowed to stay longer until they found private accommodation.

The authorities usually provide a written decision one-month before the eviction. People are entitled to challenge it with AWAS, but with no formal procedure provided. According to NGOs, AWAS might reconsider such decision on a case by case basis depending on the vulnerability of the applicant[6].

These evictions are a major problem in Malta where accommodation is very hard to secure due to high prices in a largely unregulated private rental market and the fact that landlords are usually extremely reluctant to rent accommodation to asylum-seekers. Thus, these evictions often resulted in homelessness.

In July 2019, the police discovered around 100 migrants living in stables transformed into illegal dwellings by landlords in an ever-increasing black-market sector. After their eviction, it was reported that these people ended up living in the streets.[7]

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 and 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 appears not to accept asylum-seekers any longer.[8]

 


[1] Regulation 13 Reception Regulations.

[2] Information provided by AWAS, January 2019.

[3] Information provided by JRS Malta 2020.

[4] ECtHR, Louled Massoud 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.

[5] Times of Malta, Migrants to be evicted from Ħal Far 'tent village', 15 August 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3brApcz.

[6] Information provided by JRS Malta 2020.

[7] Times of Malta, Evicted from stables, now living ‘like animals’, 23 July 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2WG19Sd.

[8] Information provided by JRS Malta, 2020.

 

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