The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has published its fourth report on Malta. ECRI notes that since the publication of the last report in 2008, efforts have been made to improve the asylum determination procedure and that now subsidiary protection and the principle of non-refoulement are provided for under Maltese law.

Despite these positive developments, ECRI highlights that some issues continue to raise concern, such as the mandatory detention of migrants and asylum seekers, who arrive in an irregular manner, the fact that there is no limit to such detention and that irregular migrants do not have a remedy available to challenge the grounds of their detention. Furthermore, the report states that free legal aid is provided to asylum seekers by the State only at the appeals phase. ECRI calls on the Maltese authorities to provide non-custodial alternative measures to the detention of migrants and to include under Maltese law a limit to the duration of detention.

The report also stresses that refugees, persons granted international protection and immigrants continue to be employed in the informal economy and are often exploited by their employers. Not only are their wages far lower than the national minimum wage, but also health and safety standards are often disregarded, the report found. ECRI urges Malta to take steps in order to counter the labour exploitation of refugees, persons granted international protection and immigrants by addressing their over-representation in the informal sector.

ECRI’s recommendations will be subject to follow-up in two years.

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 18 October 2013
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