Min­istry’s plans will ren­der hun­dreds of men women and chil­dren des­ti­tute, NGOs say

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Changes to the Tem­po­rary Hu­man Pro­tec­tion-New an­nounced by the government con­sti­tutes “a re­gres­sion of fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights and would ren­der hun­dreds of men, women and chil­dren des­ti­tute” a group of NGO’s said yes­ter­day.

In a state­ment, 16 NGOs called for mi­grants who are “by the state’s own ad­mis­sion, non-re­turn­able through no fault of their own, be of­fered the pos­si­bil­ity to reg­u­larise their sta­tus in Malta thereby ac­knowl­edg­ing their con­tri­bu­tions, se­cur­ing a dig­ni­fied life and sup­port­ing var­i­ous eco­nomic sec­tors”.

The state­ment came in re­sponse to the Min­is­ter of Home Af­fairs and National Se­cu­rity’s an­nounce­ment that fol­low­ing con­sul­ta­tion with the Refugee Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice, Job­splus and Iden­tity Malta, al­ter­ations would be made to the THP-n in or­der to find “a proper al­ter­na­tive way for­ward”.

The fol­low­ing changes will be im­ple­mented:

Cur­rent hold­ers of THP-n, who still meet the cur­rent el­i­gi­bil­ity cri­te­ria, would have such sta­tus re­newed un­til not later than 31st Oc­to­ber 2017 by the Of­fice of the Refugee Com­mis­sioner.

Those hold­ers whose THP-n sta­tus ex­pired and was not re­newed due to the cur­rent review which has been tak­ing place since the end of Oc­to­ber 2016, are to con­tact the Of­fice of the Refugee Com­mis­sioner should they wish to re­new their sta­tus, pro­vided that all el­i­gi­bil­ity re­quire­ments pre­vi­ously in place, are met.

The Of­fice of the Refugee Com­mis­sioner shall not be is­su­ing any new THP-n cer­tifi­cates.

Those hav­ing their THP-n re­newed un­til 31st Oc­to­ber 2017 are to start mak­ing ar­range­ments to pro­cure all the re­quired doc­u­men­ta­tion from their coun­try of ori­gin that would al­low them to ap­ply with Iden­tity Malta for the is­su­ing of a res­i­dence per­mit to cover their stay in Malta af­ter 31st Oc­to­ber 2017. The ap­pli­cants in ques­tion would also have to com­ply with other rel­e­vant Iden­tity Malta cri­te­ria, in­clud­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion of a valid em­ploy­ment li­cence.

Fail­ure to present such doc­u­men­ta­tion means that the in­di­vid­ual in ques­tion will con­tinue to be con­sid­ered a failed asy­lum seeker. This is with­out any prej­u­dice to his/her right to ap­ply for an em­ploy­ment li­cence with Job­splus, as per cur­rent pro­ce­dures al­ready in place.

But ac­cord­ing to the NGOs, the min­is­te­rial re­quire­ments for the THPN are “im­pos­si­ble to ful­fil”, such as the pro­cure­ment of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ments and a labour mar­ket test. The NGOs also claim that the min­istry knows all too well that coun­tries of ori­gin refuse to pro­vide th­ese doc­u­ments; and that most jobs mi­grants take on do not qual­ify un­der the labour mar­ket test.

This, they said, will deny th­ese peo­ple ac­cess to health­care and so­cial sup­port.

The NGOs be­lieve that by deny­ing peo­ple ac­cess to health care and so­cial sup­port, “the Min­istry is fail­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate the hu­man, so­cial and eco­nomic reper­cus­sions of its de­ci­sions”. In their meet­ing with the Min­istry, the NGOs pre­sented a doc­u­ment propos­ing rec­om­men­da­tions which they be­lieve to be just and hu­mane.

THP-N was in the news ear­lier this week af­ter re­ports emerged of Malian na­tion­als be­ing rounded up in prepa­ra­tion for de­por­ta­tion.

How­ever the min­istry noted by way of clar­i­fi­ca­tion that the de­ten­tion of a num­ber of ir­reg­u­lar im­mi­grants by Im­mi­gra­tion Po­lice this week is com­pletely un­re­lated to the review of this sta­tus dis­cussed. Those cur­rently de­tained are not in pos­ses­sion of this or any other sta­tus.

The NGOs sign­ing the state­ment were: the Adi­tus foun­da­tion, The Crit­i­cal In­sti­tute, Foun­da­tion for Shel­ter and Sup­port to Mi­grants, Gen­der Lib­er­a­tion, In­te­gra Foun­da­tion, In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for Refugees, JRS Malta, Malta Emi­grants’ Com­mis­sion, MGRM, Moroc­can Com­mu­nity in Malta, Movi­ment Graf­fitti, Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Friend­ship in Di­ver­sity, the Peo­ple for Change Foun­da­tion, the Plat­form of Hu­man Rights Or­gan­i­sa­tions in Malta, SOS Malta, and Spark 15.

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