On 14 February ECRE released the updated AIDA country report for Malta, presenting an in-depth analysis of asylum procedures, reception conditions, detention and rights of recognised beneficiaries in the country. Malta received 1,619 asylum seekers in 2017, among whom a modest number of boat arrivals. Most asylum seekers were from Syria, Libya and Somalia.
Most developments concerned the asylum procedure. Asylum seekers now automatically receive the assessment memo of the Refugee Commissioner, giving a detailed motivation of the decision on their application. This greatly improves applicants’ rights to access their file and seek remedies.
There have also been some modifications in the Dublin procedure – which is now carried out by the Refugee Commissioner, previously being implemented by the Immigration Police. Appeals against decisions under the Dublin Regulation are now handled by the Refugee Appeals Board, which has taken over this responsibility from the Immigration Appeals Board. The supply of information on the Dublin procedure has improved. Asylum seekers who are being considered for a Dublin transfer are provided with a document explaining the Dublin procedure and the fact that their case is on hold until a decision is made.
The Refugee Commissioner does not keep statistical data relating to applicants processed under the accelerated procedure, but NGOs have reported cases processed under the accelerated procedure in 2017. This procedure is used to dismiss claims as inadmissible for nationals of safe countries of origin.
Asylum seekers arriving irregularly in Malta are accommodated in the Initial Reception Centre for a few weeks upon arrival. This centre was previously closed but following a change in policy it is now open.
Due to the modest number of boat arrivals, only 43 asylum seekers were placed in detention in 2017, and almost all of them were released within 2 or 3 months following the first review of their detention. According to the authorities, the average period of detention was 56 days. However, NGOs remain concerned about access to effective remedy for detained applicants.
*This information was first published by AIDA in more detailed versions: Malta
Photo: (cc) jev55, April 2016