National legislation literally transposes the recast Reception Conditions Directive regarding the definition of applicants with special needs and provides that “an evaluation by the entity responsible for the welfare of asylum seekers, carried out in conjunction with other authorities as necessary shall be conducted as soon as practicably possible”.
However, upon arrival, alleged unaccompanied minors, and other manifestly vulnerable persons are now immediately detained either in pursuance of the Health Regulations, or under the national Reception Conditions Regulations or most of the time without any legal basis and without any form of assessment.
As mentioned in Identification, AWAS is responsible for implementing government policy regarding persons with special reception needs and is in charge of these assessments that are now mainly conducted in detention.
When someone will be deemed to be vulnerable, he or she will be released and should be immediately accommodated in open centres or centres for unaccompanied minors, depending on availability. However, even if AWAS claims that age assessments are conducted immediately, practice shows that it can take weeks or months for assessments to be conducted, resulting in minors staying in detention for a long time pending assessment. Moreover, if the assessment concludes the individual is an adult, he or she has the right to appeal but is not released or considered minor before a final decision is taken.
Regarding vulnerable applicants, they are assessed only upon referral by anyone visiting asylum-seekers in detention. Such assessments are now conducted by people deployed by EASO under the supervision of AWAS. As already mentioned, the team consists of 15 assessors, all deployed by EASO, and translators are also now available. The team operates both in the reception centres and the detention centres.
AWAS indicated that in addition to the vulnerability assessments conducted in detention, the agency conducted 84 assessments in Hal Far Tet Village at the end of 2020, based on a dry-screening exercise.
Beyond the general principle, specific measures provided by law for vulnerable persons are as follows: the maintenance of family unity where possible; and particular, yet undefined, attention to ensure that material reception conditions are such to ensure an adequate standard of living.
Families are usually accommodated in Ħal Far Hangar. Single women are accommodated at Hal Far Open Centre and unaccompanied minors are generally accommodated in a section of HTV or in a dedicated reception centre (Dar il-Liedna) where they receive a higher level of support than that available in the other, larger centres. The centre has an official capacity of 58 persons and is staffed by care workers from AWAS.
There are no other facilities equipped to accommodate applicants with other special reception needs. All other vulnerable individuals are treated on a case-by-case basis by AWAS social workers, with a view to providing the required care and support.
With regard to ongoing monitoring, whilst no formal monitoring system exists within detention, vulnerable individuals may be referred to AWAS at any point of their stay in detention. Within open centres, no formal monitoring mechanism is established, yet vulnerable individuals may approach or be referred to open centre management and staff.
 Regulation 14 Reception Regulations.
 Regulation 7 Reception Regulations.
 Regulation 11(2) Reception Regulations.