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