Calls for intervention over Malta's brutal treatment of refugees

Rights group calls for urgent intervention over Malta's 'gravely inhumane treatment' of refugees
3 min read
08 February, 2021
The Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor organisation is calling for an “immediate intervention" from the EU Commission for "gravely inhumane treatment" given to migrants and asylum seekers in Malta
Malta is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily, Libya and Tunisia
Migrants and asylum seekers in Malta have fallen victim of "gravely inhumane treatment", the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor organisation has said in a statement on Sunday, calling for an "immediate intervention" from the EU Commission.

"There's mounting evidence that large numbers of asylum seekers and migrants continue to be detained in abusive and unlawful conditions, while the Maltese government keeps denying such deplorable situation", the statement said.

It described the situation as: "Migrants stuck in a limbo in Malta are languishing in unsustainable and inhumane conditions at detention centres, where overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, abuse and brutal treatment have pushed some to the edge of despair. Some have attempted suicide as a result."

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor is an independent, non-profit organisation that advocates for the human rights of people across Europe and the MENA region, especially those who live under occupation, in a war, political unrest or displacement situation.

Malta is a small and densely populated archipelago situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily, Libya and Tunisia, and therefore situated on the path of many migrants leaving North Africa for Europe.

Taking into account its small size and population, Malta proportionally speaking receives the greatest number of migrants of the EU Member States.

At arrival, all migrants, whether asylum seekers or not, are detained behind bars until the authorities decide on further measures or organise repatriation.

Euro-Med reported that several migrants detained in Malta said they have been "beaten, having their teeth damaged by beatings to their face and being taken to a room to be beaten up and left alone for several hours".

A 27-year-old migrant from Morocco, detained in Safi barracks, where some migrants have already reported preferring to go home than remain there, said: "We are in a miserable condition and lack the most basic rights to live. [Some people] suffer from serious physical and psychological diseases to the extent that [they] tried to commit suicide several times. We have abstained from eating for several days".

According to the UN agency for refugees (UNHCR), the numbers of arrivals to the EU continue to decrease each year.

The numbers of those arriving by sea and land in 2020 (95,000) decreased by 23% when compared with 2019 (123,700 individuals) and by 33% when compared with 2018 (141,500).

Following the 1951 Refugee Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights and EU law, Malta is required, as every other member state, to protect the right of people to seek asylum and protection from refoulement, even if they enter irregularly.

Despite this drop in numbers and the laws, Euro-Med stated that: "Malta has employed several illegal tactics to thwart sea migrants, including hiring private ships to push them to Libya, refusing the disembarkation of rescued migrants, closing its ports to humanitarian boats, and exploiting Covid-19 as a pretext for such violations".

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