July 18, 2012

I. Migrants and Asylum Seekers in Malta

In the 10-year period from the beginning of 2002 to the end of 2011, 14,735 migrants traveled by boat to Malta, an average of 1,470 per year.[7] Of the migrants who arrived in Malta by boat in this period, 93 percent applied for asylum.[8] At the time of writing, 838 migrants had arrived so far in 2012.[9] Migrants typically traveled on boats leaving from Libya for Italy, many of which lacked adequate navigation systems and so arrived in Maltese waters instead.

The flow of migrants and asylum seekers to Malta during this 10-year period has not been consistent. Numbers peaked in 2008, with 2,775 migrants entering, and in 2011, 1,579 migrants entered by boat.[10] In 2010 the numbers of migrants entering Malta temporarily dropped. Concurrently, a joint agreement between Libya and Italy (to which Malta was not party) to interdict and forcibly return boat migrants on the high seas between the two countries was in operation.[11] The implementation of this agreement—in which Italian vessels towed migrant boats from international waters back to Libya without even a cursory screening for whether those on board were refugees or sick or injured, and through which the number of boats leaving from Libya was drastically curtailed[12] —may have contributed to the decrease in travel to Malta during that year. Boat migration to both Italy and Malta since resumed, in light of the Arab Spring in 2011 and the suspension of the Libyan-Italian agreement after the collapse of the Libyan regime.

Virtually all boat migrants who arrive in Maltese waters—an average of 1,470 per year—are detained upon arrival. Maltese law mandates that a person who enters the country without “right of entry” shall be designated a “prohibited immigrant” and may be detained.[13] Mandatory detention of a prohibited immigrant occurs under the Immigration Act with the issuance of a removal order, which, although not by law automatic, occurs, in practice, routinely at the time of apprehension.[14] The law says that after the removal order is issued, the prohibited immigrant “shall be detained in custody until he is removed from Malta.” Additionally, as a matter of Maltese government policy, prohibited immigrants who apply for asylum will continue to be detained.[15]

Most boat migrants and asylum seekers during this period were from sub-Saharan Africa. The largest group of the migrants—approximately one third—came originally from Somalia, while the second largest group came from Eritrea.[16] Other significant countries of origin included Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Sudan.[17]

Those claiming to be unaccompanied migrant children make up a significant portion of the migration flow to Malta. In 2007 and 2008, for example, around 400 migrants each year arrived in Malta claiming to be unaccompanied children.[18] The rate at which those migrants are found to be children after an age determination process varies: in 2007, 21 percent were found to be children and in 2008, the rate was 8 percent.[19]

In 2011, there were 61 unaccompanied minors recognized by the Maltese authorities after an age determination process, of whom 29 were from Somalia. In 2011, seven unaccompanied minors were girls.[20] Whereas most children who arrive with their families are accommodated in open centers after a relatively short period in detention, a policy of detaining unaccompanied migrant children pending age determination and a low threshold for placing children in age determination proceedings means that almost all unaccompanied migrant children are detained for weeks or months in detention facilities with unrelated adults.

For the most part, migrants and asylum seekers who arrive in Malta by air are not detained, because they arrive at official ports of entry with the relevant documentation.[21] This report focuses on migrants who arrive by boat, who are considered to have arrived irregularly.

Arduous Journey

The trip to Malta can last many months, according to our interviewees. Typically, migrants might leave their countries of origin in sub-Saharan Africa, travel to Sudan or Mali, then traverse the Sahara by truck or jeep before crossing into Libya. After traveling north in Libya, they board boats to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Stéphane K. described his journey: “I left Ivory Coast when I was 16 years old. My family was persecuted.… I went through Niger, Mali, and to Libya in trucks. Then from Libya to Malta by boat. I’m not sure how many were in my boat, perhaps 100 to 160 people.”[22]

The boat trips from Libya to Malta are perilous, involving basic vessels with limited navigation systems that are not seaworthy and often have insufficient amounts of food, water, and fuel.[23] Celeste A., an Ivorian woman who arrived in Malta in 2011, said, “We were at sea for 10 days. Without eating, without drinking. We arrived here almost dead, and they took us and put us in detention.”[24] Maka O., a man who arrived in 2011 from Nigeria, recounted, “We were three days in the sea. The engine had problems and we were floating for three more days. There were 73 people, not enough water, not enough food.”[25]

Many boats capsize or go into distress, and may then be assisted by patrols from the Armed Forces of Malta.[26] For instance, Hani H., a Somali migrant who came to Malta in 2008, reported that his boat “bumped with an Italian fishing boat. All 28 of us, all the people in the water. The fishing boat gave us plastic [to use as buoys] and radioed in. A Maltese boat came and took us straight from the sea to detention.”[27]

United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 1,500 people died attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe in 2011, which amounts to approximately 2.5 percent of the 58,000 migrants who made the crossing.[28] Indeed, many die on boats that reach Maltese waters. For instance, on May 5, 2012, a boat reached a Maltese beach with 90 Somali passengers who reported that seven had died during their week-long trip from Libya.[29] Many of our interviewees similarly recounted fatalities on their trip. For example, Fethee E., who was 15 years old when he left his native Ethiopia, said, “I came by boat from Libya … I was going to Italia but not eating, drinking … After the boat, I was three days in hospital. We were almost 130 persons [on the boat] and one Nigerian woman died. We were traveling for 10 days.”[30]

Many migrants we interviewed, like Fethee, do not set off with Malta as their destination. Rather, they are aiming for Europe generally, or Italy specifically. Aminata H., said, “I arrived in … 2011 by boat from Libya. I didn’t know that we were going to Malta. For me, the idea was to go to Italy.”[31] Sekou C., a Guinean migrant, agreed: “I came here from Libya by boat. The goal wasn’t to get to Malta.”[32]

Migrants who arrive in Malta do not necessarily want to stop there. In many cases, they are on boats without navigation systems—and may wish to move on to mainland Europe. Malta has taken the approach of using mandatory detention to dissuade migrants from arriving in Malta. This approach has little deterrent effect in practice, given that migrants often cannot control their destination.

Flight from Poverty, Persecution, War, and Violence

Many interviewees told Human Rights Watch that hardship and violence in their home countries motivated their journeys to Europe. Many also pointed to Europe as a place of greater economic opportunity. Given the high proportion of migrants who arrive in Malta from Somalia, it is no surprise that conflict spurred some migrants’ decision to move.

Particularly among the unaccompanied migrant children we interviewed, the death of one or both parents, and violence in their home countries, often triggered their decisions to leave. According to studies by the international NGO Save the Children, unaccompanied migrant children also migrate to contribute to their family’s income, seek educational opportunities, or escape violence or conflict.[33]

Many of the migrants we interviewed who came to Malta within the last 18 months told us the increasingly difficult conditions in Libya encouraged them to move on toward Europe. For instance, Maka, from Nigeria, reported, “we were in Libya for three years, but then there was the Gaddafi problem. I lost my father, the Gaddafi rebels killed him…. I had to find my way out, I travelled to Europe.” Amadou K.’s story was similar: “I was living in Guinea, then I arrived in Libya and there was the problem of the war, so I decided to leave. My goal was to leave Libya as quickly as possible. I arrived here [in Malta] by chance.”[34]

Asylum in Malta and International Burden Sharing

Malta has the highest rate of asylum applications per population in the industrialized world.[35] Compared to its tiny size—the population of Malta is approximately 400,000 people—the island sees a disproportionately high percentage of the migrants entering the EU.[36] While the EU provides some financial assistance to Malta, [37] it fails to provide sufficient cooperation with relocation programs, asylum determination procedures, and integration options to adequately address the needs of migrants and asylum seekers in Malta.

Ninety-three percent of the migrants who arrive in Malta by boat—almost all of whom are detained upon arriving on the island—apply for asylum. Malta has an efficient asylum-processing system with one of the lowest backlogs in Europe, and a 58 percent rate of recognition for some form of protected status (though not necessarily asylum), considerably higher than the EU average.[38] In 2011, four percent of applicants were granted refugee status.[39] A further 37 percent were granted subsidiary protection.[40] Subsidiary protection is a category of international protection defined by the EU to apply to those facing a “real risk of suffering serious harm” in their country of origin but who do not meet the more stringent requirements of qualifying for asylum.[41] Subsidiary protection gives recipients fewer benefits than those with full refugee status, in part because it was initially considered a temporary form of protection, and is time limited and subject to review.[42] For instance, EU laws give more limited access to labor markets for people with subsidiary protection than for refugees.[43]

Those not qualifying for asylum or subsidiary protection may still acquire a domestic form of temporary protection, called New Temporary Humanitarian Protection, or “THP(N),” to some migrants who do not qualify for refugee status or subsidiary protection.[44] This status, granted at the discretion of the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, permits migrants to work legally in Malta, but not to travel within the EU, and is subject to yearly review based on criteria set by the Refugee Commissioner. In 2011, 17 percent of those who applied for asylum were granted this status.[45]

Unaccompanied migrant children may apply for asylum, as described above. Care for unaccompanied children is split between three ministries and numerous agencies. After the Minister for Justice, Dialogue, and the Family issues the care order, the child is then placed in a group home run by AWAS, an entity under the Ministry of Home and Parliamentary Affairs. Children under AWAS’s care are entitled to education and at that stage their needs fall to the Ministry of Education.[46]

After release from detention, migrants can find it hard to integrate into Maltese society. They sometimes experience xenophobia and racism, have trouble finding work, and have uncertainty around their legal capacity to stay. There are only a few local or national initiatives to help those with legal status integrate into the country.[47] Many migrants want to stay in Malta, but others would like to join family elsewhere in Europe. European policies on relocation within Europe and family reunification are not clear and exacerbate the uncertainty many migrants feel about their situation. While the EU places a heavy burden on Malta and other countries at the external borders of the EU, integration is nonetheless considered an important aspect of responding to the needs of those with international protection.[48]

In 1999, the EU committed to establishing a Common European Asylum System (CEAS) which would harmonize refugee standards and asylum procedures throughout the EU. Despite multiple European Commission asylum directives over the past 12 years, these have failed to remedy wide disparities throughout the EU in the treatment of asylum seekers.

The Dublin II regulation,[49] which ostensibly prevents asylum seekers from ‘forum shopping’ (or choosing a destination country) based on the idea that under CEAS all claims receive the same process, sets out which member state is responsible for examining an asylum claim. It will normally be the country of first arrival. The regulation means that any asylum seeker who is registered in Malta and travels on to another EU member state can be returned to Malta to have his or her asylum claim heard there. Among its flaws, Dublin II ignores legitimate factors, such as extended family and community ties, that asylum seekers consider when choosing where to apply for asylum, and unfairly allocates the burden of processing asylum claims to the some states on the EU’s external borders, such as Greece, which is the main land entry point into the EU, and Malta, which is geographically close to north Africa.

The EU has taken some steps to mitigate this burden, for instance, by relocating recognized refugees from Malta to other EU states,[50] and by providing limited financial support. Only a relatively small number of migrants with protection from Malta have been relocated within the EU or resettled to the United States: From 2007 through mid-May 2012, 985 refugees were resettled from Malta to the United States.[51] In 2010-2011, 228 others were relocated from Malta to other EU member states.[52] Yet the number of people relocated to the EU and the US may not stay consistent in the future, and is insufficient to relieve Malta of its burden. In addition, the EU has failed to develop adequate options for family reunification; for example it has not allowed children who have been granted protection in Malta to join extended family in other European countries.

The European Commissioner for Human Rights has emphasized that a lack of “meaningful international solidarity and co-operation” on the part of other EU countries contributes to the risk of serious rights violations against migrants in Malta.[53] Nonetheless, incomplete cooperation from the EU does not relieve Malta of its obligations to treat migrants and asylum seekers humanely and offer options for long-term integration.

Maltese Institutions Responsible for Migrants

Responsibility for migrants and unaccompanied migrant children is divided among various government entities:

The Malta Police, Immigration Section is responsible for border activities, including border control at the airport, seaport, and yacht marinas.[54]

The Detention Services are responsible for guarding immigration detention facilities using staff seconded from the police and the armed forces, as well as civilians.[55]

The Board of Visitors for Detained Persons is responsible for oversight of the immigration detention facilities, and has the legal authority to visit the facilities monthly.[56]

The Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS) manages open accommodation facilities; provides services to categories of persons identified as vulnerable, including unaccompanied children; conducts age determinations; provides information to asylum seekers regarding employment, housing, education, health and welfare services offered under national schemes; and liaises with government and civil society to advise on policy and service provision.[57]

The Office of the Refugee Commissioner is responsible for an independent eligibility determination process for asylum applications.[58]

The Refugee Commissioner falls under the Ministry of Home and Parliamentary Affairs, which reviews each case as recommended by the Commissioner.[59] The Detention Service, the Malta Police, the Board of Visitors for Detained Persons, and AWAS also all fall under the Ministry of Home and Parliamentary Affairs.

The Ministry of Justice, Dialogue, and the Family is responsible for child policy and child protection. Unaccompanied migrant children are under the custody of the Children and Young Persons Advisory Board,which is responsible for reviewing all the care plans related to each minor.[60]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for implementing citizenship and immigration legislation and policies including issuing residence permits to third country nationals.[61]

The Maltese Commissioner for Children, which promotes the welfare of children and compliance with the CRC, and the Ombudsman to the people of Malta, who can investigate complaints against any government department or agency, can also monitor the government’s treatment of migrants, including migrant children. [62]

 

[7] Office of the Refugee Commissioner, “Arrivals by Boat 2002-2012,” unpublished document provided to Human Rights Watch by the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[8] Malta received 14,735 migrants by boat from 2002-2011. Office of the Refugee Commissioner, “Arrivals by Boat 2002-2012,” unpublished document provided to Human Rights Watch by the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, on file with Human Rights Watch. During the same period, 13,735 people applied for asylum. Office of the Refugee Commissioner, “Official Statistics,” unpublished document provided to Human Rights Watch by the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[9] Frontex Watch, “Malta, 2012 Landings,” http://www.crimemalta.com/frontexwatch.htm (accessed July 7, 2012).

[10] Office of the Refugee Commissioner, “Arrivals by Boat 2002-2012,” unpublished document provided to Human Rights Watch by the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[11] Human Rights Watch, Pushed Back, Pushed Around: Italy's Forced Return of Boat Migrants and Asylum Seekers, Libya's Mistreatment of Migrants and Asylum Seekers, September 2009, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2009/09/21/pushed-back-pushed-around-0, p. 4.

[12] Human Rights Watch, Pushed Back, Pushed Around: Italy's Forced Return of Boat Migrants and Asylum Seekers, Libya's Mistreatment of Migrants and Asylum Seekers, September 2009, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2009/09/21/pushed-back-pushed-around-0, p. 11.

[13] Immigration Act to Restrict, Control and Regulate Immigration into Malta and to Make Provisions for Matters Ancillary Thereto, Cap 217 of the Laws of Malta, 1970, amended repeatedly until 2009, arts. 10(2), 14(2), and 16 (“Immigration Act”)

[14] “In practice, upon being apprehended, a prohibited immigrant is issued with a removal order, in accordance with Article 14(2) of the Act.” European Court of Human Rights, Louled Massoud v. Malta, judgment of 27 July 2010, Application no. 24340/08, http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4c6ba1232.html (accessed 12 May 2012), para. 15.

[15] “Irregular Immigrants, Refugees and Integration,” Maltese government policy document of 2005, cited by the European Court of Human Rights in Louled Massoud v. Malta, para. 16. (“While the [asylum] application is being processed, in accordance with a Maltese policy document of 2005 entitled ‘Irregular Immigrants, Refugees and Integration,’ the immigrant will remain in detention, but no immigrant shall be kept in detention for longer than eighteen months.”)

[16]A total of 4,920 people, or 32.9 percent of the migrants came from Somalia, and 2073, or 13.9 percent came from Eritrea. Office of the Refugee Commissioner, “Arrivals by Boat 2002-2012,” unpublished document provided to Human Rights Watch by the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[17] A total of 1,528 people came from Egypt, 605 from Ethiopia, 546 from Ghana, 664 from Ivory Coast, 944 from Nigeria, and 782 from Sudan during this period. Ibid.

[18] European Migration Network (Maltese National Contact Point), “Unaccompanied Minors in Malta: Their Numbers and the Policies and Arrangements for their Reception, Return and Integration,” Valetta, Malta, May 2009, http://www.mjha.gov.mt/MediaCenter/PDFs/1_EMN-Unaccompanied%20Minors%20Study%20FINAL%20VERSION%20(c).pdf (accessed July 6, 2012), p. 13 (relying on data from the government Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers).

[19] European Migration Network (Maltese National Contact Point), “Unaccompanied Minors in Malta: Their Numbers and the Policies and Arrangements for their Reception, Return and Integration,” Valetta, Malta, May 2009, http://www.mjha.gov.mt/MediaCenter/PDFs/1_EMN-Unaccompanied%20Minors%20Study%20FINAL%20VERSION%20(c).pdf (accessed July 6, 2012), p. 13 (relying on data from the government Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers).

[20] Office of the Refugee Commissioner, Malta, Statistics on Category C (Boat Persons) as on 31/12/2011, unpublished document provided to Human Rights Watch by the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[21] For instance, in 2011, 276 people who did not arrive by boat applied for asylum. The largest group (127 people) was composed of people from Syria, while the second largest (72 people) was composed of people from Libya. Office of the Refugee Commissioner, “2011 Arrival Statistics ECRI,” unpublished document provided to Human Rights Watch by the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[22] Human Rights Watch interview with Stéphane K., Marsa, Malta, March 15, 2012.

[23] See, e.g., Judith Sunderland (Human Rights Watch), “Dying to Leave Libya,” commentary, EUobserver, May 4, 2011, http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/05/04/dying-leave-libya; Joe DeCapua, “Risking Death to Reach Safety in Europe,” Voice of America, January 31, 2012.

[24] Human Rights Watch interview with Celeste A., Hermes Block, Hal Far, Malta, May 3, 2012.

[25] Human Rights Watch interview with Maka O., Marsa, Malta, April 25, 2012.

[26] Human Rights Watch has previously expressed concern that Malta and Italy, as well as other parties, have disagreed as to who has responsibility to rescue migrants at sea, despite the potential for loss of life. See, e.g., Judith Sunderland (Human Rights Watch), “Dying to Leave Libya,” commentary, EUobserver, May 4, 2011, http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/05/04/dying-leave-libya; Letter from Human Rights Watch et al. to NATO, “Clarify Response to Deaths at Sea: On Anniversary of Migrant Deaths, Public Disclosure Needed,” March 26, 2012, http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/26/nato-clarify-response-deaths-sea.

[27] Human Rights Watch interview with Hani H., Hal Far, Malta, April 24, 2012.

[28] “1,500 Died Crossing the Mediterranean Last Year—UNHCR,” Times of Malta, January 31, 2012.

[29] UNHCR Press Release, “Somalia: Survivors of Sea Voyage to Malta Say Seven Somali Refugees Died,” AllAfrica.com, May 8, 2012.

[30] Human Rights Watch interview with Fethee E., Marsa, Malta, May 2, 2012.

[31] Human Rights Watch interview with Aminata H., Hermes Block, Hal Far, Malta, May 3, 2012.

[32] Human Rights Watch interview with Sekou C., Marsa, Malta, April 25, 2011.

[33] Save the Children, “Away from Home: Protecting and Supporting Children on the Move,” 2008, http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/resources/online-library/away-from-home-protecting-and-supporting-children-on-the-move, pp. 7-10.

[34] Human Rights Watch interview with Amadou K., Marsa, Malta, April 25, 2011.

[35] Between 2007 and 2011, Malta received, on average, the highest number of asylum-seekers compared to its national population: 20.1 per 1,000 inhabitants. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries: Statistical overview of asylum applications lodged in Europe and selected non-European countries,” March 27, 2012, http://www.unhcr.org/4e9beaa19.html (accessed April 26, 2012).

[36] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries: Statistical overview of asylum applications lodged in Europe and selected non-European countries,” March 27, 2012, http://www.unhcr.org/4e9beaa19.html (accessed April 26, 2012).

[37] For the period 2007-2013 the EU established the General Programme Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows, consisting of four Funds (Refugee, External Borders, Return, and Integration). Malta has been allocated 22.3 million Euros through this programme.

[38] “In 2010, a quarter (25.0 %) of EU-27 first instance asylum decisions resulted in positive outcomes with the grants of a refugee, subsidiary protection status or authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons.” European Commission (EUROSTAT), “Asylum Statistics,” data from September 2011, http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Asylum_statistics (accessed June 7, 2012).

[39] Seventy-two persons, out of 1,862 cases, were granted refugee status. Office of the Refugee Commissioner, “Official Statistics,” unpublished document provided to Human Rights Watch by the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[40] Six hundred and eighty-five persons, out of 1,862 cases, were granted subsidiary protection. Office of the Refugee Commissioner, “Official Statistics,” unpublished document provided to Human Rights Watch by the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[41] “Applicants who do not qualify for refugee status, but who cannot return to their country of origin due to a real risk of suffering serious harm (torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, death penalty or execution, serious individual threat to the life or person as result of indiscriminate violence) have the right to subsidiary protection.” European Commission Home Affairs, “Who can benefit from international protection in the EU?” http://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/policies/asylum/asylum_subsidiary_en.htm (accessed May 13, 2007).

[42] “When subsidiary protection was introduced, it was assumed that this status was of a temporary nature. As a result, the Directive allows Member States the discretion to grant them a lower level of rights in certain respects. However, practical experience acquired so far has shown that this initial assumption was not accurate. It is thus necessary to remove any limitations of the rights of beneficiaries of subsidiary protection which can no longer be considered as necessary and objectively justified.” European Commission, “Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection and the content of protection granted,” Com(2009) 551 final, 2009/0164 (COD), October 21, 2009, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2009:0551:FIN:EN:PDF (accessed May 13, 2012), p. 8.

[43] “Council Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted,” Official Journal L 304 , 30/09/2004 P. 0012 – 0023, Council of the European Union. Chapters II and V of Council Directive 2004/83/EC. Malta introduced subsidiary protection status in 2008 after EU Council Directive 2004/83 EC (5) was transposed into Maltese Legislation. Previously Malta’s Refugees Act provided for temporary humanitarian protection, defined as special leave to remain in Malta for those persons who could not have returned safely to their country of origin. Government of Malta, “Office of the Refugee Commissioner: Asylum Procedure,” http://mjha.gov.mt/page.aspx?pageid=160#The_Asylum_Procedure (accessed May 9, 2012).

[44] In order to qualify for THP(N), migrants must have been in Malta for more than four years, had their asylum determination process completely finalized, and meet four main criteria: regular, steady and legal work; private accommodation (i.e. outside the open centers); knowledge of English and Maltese; and be of good conduct and character. Office of the Refugee Commissioner, “Welcome Speech and Annual Report, Conference at the Palace Sliema, 14.06.11 ,” unpublished document provided to Human Rights Watch by the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[45] Three hundred and eighteen persons out of 1,862 cases were granted subsidiary protection. Office of the Refugee Commissioner, “Official Statistics,” unpublished document provided to Human Rights Watch by the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[46] Maltese law permits unaccompanied migrant children to attend school, and AWAS has several initiatives to encourage attendance. Human Rights Watch interview with Anne-Marie Pisani, coordinator, Dar il-Liedna group home, Fgura, Malta, May 2, 2012. There are a small number of positive examples of unaccompanied migrant children who have gone on to higher education. There are five students who have enrolled in foundation courses at the Maltese College of Arts, Science and Technology. Human Rights Watch interview with Helen d’Amato, Children’s Commissioner of Malta, Santa Venera, Malta, April 26, 2012.

[47] See Republic of Malta, “Irregular Immigrants, Refugees, and Integration: Policy Document,” 2005, pp. 26-27.

[48] Council Directive 2003/109/EC concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents, November 23, 2003, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32003L0109:EN:HTML (accessed May 30, 2011).

[49] Known as “Dublin II” because the 2003 regulation replaces the previous Convention determining the State responsible for examining applications lodged in one of the Member States of the European Communities of 15 June 1990 – Dublin Convention; OJ, C254, August 19, 1997. Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003, Official Journal L 050 , 25/02/2003 P. 0001 – 0010, March 3, 2003, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32003R0343:EN:HTML (accessed April 26, 2012).

[50] For instance, in 2011, 288 refugees were relocated. EUREMA (2010-2011): A pilot project for intra-EU re-allocation of beneficiaries of protection from Malta, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. http://unhcr.org/4ef338859.pdf (accessed May 25, 2012).

[51]Annaliza Borg, “Nearly 1,000 refugees relocated to US from Malta since 2007,” The Malta Independent, May 17, 2012 http://www.independent.com.mt/news.asp?newsitemid=144459 (accessed May 25, 2012).

[52] EUREMA (2010-2011): A pilot project for intra-EU re-allocation of beneficiaries of protection from Malta, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. http://unhcr.org/4ef338859.pdf (accessed May 25, 2012).

[53] Council of Europe, Report by Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, following his visit to Malta from 23 to 25 March 2011, CommDH (2011) 17, June 9, 2011.

[54] Government of Malta, “Malta Police Special Branch – Immigration Section,” , http://www.gdisc.org/index.php?id=187&no_cache=1&tx_gdiscdb_pi3%5BshowUid%5D=28 (accessed May 9, 2012).

[55] Global Detention Project, “Malta Detention Profile,” http://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/europe/malta/introduction.html (accessed May 9, 2012); Human Rights Watch interview with Lt. Col. Brian Gatt, Commander Detention Service, Ministry for Justice and Home Affairs, Safi Barracks, Safi, Malta, April 26, 2012.

[56] Human Rights Watch interview with Maryanne Agius, Chair of the Board of Visitors for Detained Persons, Sliema, Malta, May 3, 2012.

[57] Government of Malta, “Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers,” http://www.mjha.gov.mt/page.aspx?pageid=161

[58] Government of Malta, “Office of the Refugee Commissioner”, http://mjha.gov.mt/page.aspx?pageid=160(accessed May 9, 2012).

[59] Government of Malta, “Office of the Refugee Commissioner: Asylum Procedure,” http://mjha.gov.mt/page.aspx?pageid=160#The_Asylum_Procedure (accessed May 9, 2012).

[60] European Migration Network (Maltese National Contact Point), “Unaccompanied Minors in Malta: Their Numbers and the Policies and Arrangements for their Reception, Return and Integration,” Valetta, Malta, May 2009, http://www.mjha.gov.mt/MediaCenter/PDFs/1_EMN-Unaccompanied%20Minors%20Study%20FINAL%20VERSION%20(c).pdf (accessed July 6, 2012).

[61] Malta Ministry of Foreign Affairs, http://www.mfa.gov.mt/default.aspx?MDIS=522 (accessed May 9, 2012).

[62] Ombudsman’s Charter, December 2004, http://www.ombudsman.org.mt/index.asp?pg=charter (accessed May 9, 2012).