European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Fourth report on Malta [en] - [fr]

Press Release – 15.10.2013

 

Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Malta

Strasbourg, 15.10.2013 - The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fourth report on Malta. ECRI’s Chair, Ms Eva Smith, welcomed positive developments, but regretted that a number of concerns persisted. For example, a National Action Plan against Racism and Xenophobia has been developed but has never been adopted or published by the authorities.

Malta has made remarkable efforts to improve the asylum determination procedure; the law now includes the principle of non-refoulement and provides for subsidiary protection and caseworkers are properly trained. The National Commission for the Promotion of Equality has taken steps to raise awareness of the provisions in force against racial discrimination and available remedies. A Migrant Health Unit has been set up to address and respond to the specific needs of migrants.

However, Malta’s Citizenship Act leaves a large margin of discretion in decisions on naturalisation and there is no right to appeal. Proposed amendments to the Criminal Code will remove national origin and citizenship from the list of grounds for which racist conduct is punished. Asylum seekers and migrants who arrive in an irregular manner are detained and the Immigration Act sets no limit to such detention. Many refugees and immigrants continue to be employed in the informal economy and are subject to exploitation.

In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, among which the following three require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:

  • To amend the Citizenship Act so as to introduce clear, objective and measurable requirements on naturalisation; ensure that all decisions are open to review ; and, concerning loss of citizenship, remove any less favourable treatment afforded to persons who have acquired citizenship through naturalisation or registration;
  • To provide non-custodial alternatives to detention and refrain from resorting to the detention of migrants and asylum seekers unless it is strictly necessary in the particular circumstances of an individual case;
  • To amend the asylum procedure so as to ensure free legal aid from the outset; access of asylum seekers to their case files; and a right in all cases to appear before the Refugee Appeals Board at the appeals stage.

The report, including Government observations, is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Malta in April 2012 [Press Release – 11.05.12] and takes account of developments up to 6 December 2012.

ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination on grounds such as “race”, national/ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language (racial discrimination); it prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.

For more information on ECRI: www.coe.int/ecri

Press contact: Stefano Valenti, Tel: +33 (0)3 90 21 43 28, stefano.valenti@coe.int