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, family groups with children and other manifestly vulnerable persons are now immediately detained in pursuance of the Health Regulations 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. When someone will be deemed to be vulnerable, he or she will not be detained and will immediately be accommodated in open centres or centres for unaccompanied minors, depending on availability.
Beyond the general principle, specific measures provided by law for vulnerable persons are as follows: maintenance of family unity where possible; 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 Open Centre. Single women and unaccompanied minors are generally accommodated 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. Due to capacity reasons, families and single women are also accommodated in Ħal-Far Tent Village which was initially only for men. According to NGOs’ experience, the segregation is insufficient and inadequate.
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.