Republic of Malta
Head of state George Abela
Head of government Lawrence Gonzi
Detention for up to 18 months remained mandatory for asylum-seekers and irregular migrants, and safeguards to challenge it were inadequate. Legal protection against hate crimes was extended to LGBTI people.
Refugees, migrants and asylum-seekers
The number of people who arrived by sea increased by 28% (from 1,577 to 2,023) on the previous year. The government continued to automatically detain undocumented migrants, often for up to 18 months, in breach of Malta's international human rights obligations. Unaccompanied children whose age was in question were also reportedly detained. Age determination procedures continued to be inadequate and lengthy.
Appeal procedures to challenge the length and legitimacy of detention and to challenge decisions to reject asylum claims did not meet international human rights standards. Migrants remained exposed to the risk of arbitrary detention.
Conditions in detention centres remained poor and were exacerbated by overcrowding, with hundreds experiencing lack of privacy, insufficient access to sanitary and washing facilities, and poor recreation and leisure facilities. There were consistent and credible reports that being detained in such conditions was adversely affecting the mental health of migrants. Conditions in open centres for refugees and migrants released from detention also remained inadequate.
- On 30 June, Mamadou Kamara, a 32-year-old migrant from Mali, died in custody. He had attempted to escape from Safi Barracks detention centre, and was allegedly severely ill-treated when recaptured. Two officers were charged with his murder and a third with perverting the course of justice. On 2 July, the Prime Minister appointed a judge to lead an independent inquiry into whether the individuals involved in Mamadou Kamara's death had been negligent, had disregarded procedures or abused their powers. It was also to investigate whether the recommendations made by the inquiry into the death of Infeanyi Nwokoye in 2011 had been implemented.
- The judicial investigation into the death of Infeanyi Nwokoye in April 2011 continued. Infeanyi Nwokoye, a Nigerian migrant, had died in hospital after being recaptured following an escape attempt from Safi Barracks detention centre. He had been living in Malta since 2006. His request for asylum had been rejected, and he was returned to the detention centre after documents needed for his deportation had been finalized. A government inquiry to examine the circumstances of Infeanyi Nwokoye's death had published a summary of recommendations in October 2011.
Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people
In June, the Criminal Code was amended to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of circumstances which would increase the punishment for certain crimes.
Also in June, the definition of discrimination in the Equality for Men and Women Act was extended to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The mandate of the national equality body, the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality, which monitors the implementation of equality legislation, was extended accordingly.
Amnesty International visits/reports
- S.O.S. Europe: Human rights and migration control (EUR 01/013/2012)