18 May 2014

Detention in Malta: Europe's migrant prison

Al Jazeera

A recent Quartz article about "unexpected and terrible destinations for the world's persecuted" lists Malta as the industrialised nation with the largest number of asylum seekers per capita: 20.2 for every 1,000 inhabitants. On average, 1,500 undocumented migrants turn up in Malta every year.

Most are from sub-Saharan Africa and arrive by accident to the small European island, which is located south of Sicily, while attempting to sail to mainland Europe. It's thus clearly an "unexpected" destination in the majority of cases, but why is it so "terrible"?

For starters, Malta's policy of mandatory detention of migrants means that the travellers - many of them fleeing violence and political and economic persecution - are often detained for up to 18 months in prison-like conditions. A 2012 report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) specifies that this policy "operates in an automated, indiscriminate and blanket manner in violation of international law". Children, elderly people, and the mentally and physically disabled are not spared by the detention regime. READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA.