The Malta Independent 19 April 2024, Friday
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UNHCR presents position on detention of asylum-seekers in Malta

Malta Independent Tuesday, 1 October 2013, 15:23 Last update: about 11 years ago

The UNHCR this week shared a Position Paper on the Detention of Asylum-seekers in Malta with the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security, which is responsible for the asylum and immigration portfolio.

The 33-page document gives a detailed analysis of Malta's legislation, policy and practice in relation to the detention of persons seeking international protection, as measured against European and international refugee law and human rights standards.

It articulates in detail UNHCR's position on specific issues which should be addressed to bring Malta's reception system fully in line with the 1951 Refugee Convention and other international and regional human rights instruments.

Since the establishment of the national asylum system in Malta, UNHCR has consistently stated its position against the automatic and mandatory detention of asylum-seekers, regardless of their mode of entry. The right to seek asylum and the right to liberty and security of person form the legal basis of this position and give rise to a presumption against the use of detention as a central tenet of the national asylum system.

The paper is a result of extensive legal research and analysis, based in part on UNHCR's own observations as regards the reception system in Malta. UNHCR appreciates the ongoing cooperation with the Maltese authorities, which facilitates the agency's mandated functions, including through regular visits to detention centres and joint activities as regards training and other support.

UNHCR is well aware that the Maltese government is faced with a challenging situation. But the fact that Malta continues to receive relatively high numbers of asylum-seekers, does not absolve fundamental state responsibilities in this regard.

In UNHCR's experience, the introduction of alternatives to detention can be an effective means to reconcile the rights of asylum-seekers with valid Government considerations about control and efficiency. UNHCR supports the Government's intention to improve the overall management of arrivals of asylum-seekers and migrants in Malta. It is our firm belief that the legitimate concerns of States in this regard can be effectively addressed in line with international law standards.

To complement the Position Paper on detention, UNHCR will shortly submit to the Maltese authorities a set of concrete proposals for various improvements to the asylum system which take into account not only the international and European law framework, but also the practical reality of Malta's capacities, infrastructure and context.

Read the Position Paper by clicking on the following link: UNHCR' Position on the detention of asylum-seekers in Malta

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