Refugees tortured and maltreated in Malta

Armed Forces of Malta

According to an article published on January 31 in the Times of Malta, refugees in the country are subjected to physical violence, mental abuse, and even torture under the Maltese detention system.

Those who are being detained in the Lyster barracks and Safi detention center have alerted the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) with disturbing reports about the abuse.

The Maltese authorities however, denied having been informed about these severe abuse cases and negated that such abuse is taking place in their detention centers, despite EASO officials stating that they had informed the authorities immediately.

The reports by people who had fled countries like Libya and were held captive in Maltese detention centers include being beaten, being denied medical care, having broken teeth as a result of physical violence, and even being tortured by electrocution.

The Council of Europe‘s committee tasked with the prevention of torture (CPT) presented their findings from a six-day visit in September 2020 to the Maltese authorities stating that „(…) the delegation’s preliminary findings were presented to the Maltese authorities, along with some observations for immediate action. A full report on the visit will be transmitted to the Maltese authorities in due course.

However, as the eye-witness reports clearly show, Malta hasn’t taken any steps to stop these grave human rights violations since they were first alerted by EASO and CPT officials.

Sea-Eye is appalled by this situation. We have had to bring rescued people to Malta in the past since it was considered a place of safety, and we express our utmost concern about these conditions. These reports about the grave abuse of people seeking shelter are horrifying and untenable and we demand it stop immediately!

One of the people who was disembarked to Malta from a Sea-Eye rescue ship is Joseph*, who is currently still living in the country.

He says the following about his personal experiences in Malta: „I was thrown out of the camps with no reason. At that time it was winter, just imagine that at that time I didn’t know anyone here in Malta. I had to sleep out with my bag in the cold. There is many things happening here in Malta. Immigrants here are not in good condition but they don’t have the voice, even [if] they do, who cares. They give condition on protection which is a human right.

Refugee on board the ALAN KURDI

Europe could do so much better – why don‘t we? Why don‘t we care about the people – like Joseph says?”, asks Sophie Weidenhiller, spokesperson for Sea-Eye.

Sea-Eye refuses to accept that people who have fled wars, torture and violence are then subjected to the same kind of maltreatment and abuse by European authorities. We most strongly oppose all human rights violations – whether they happen outside or inside of Europe. We will continue to stand up for human rights whenever and wherever it is necessary.

Joseph* originally fled violence and prosecution in Central Africa, ended up being abused in war-torn Libya and was eventually rescued from distress at sea in the Mediterranean by Sea-Eye and disembarked in Malta.

*The name and sensitive details of his story have been redacted for his safety.
The photos in this article are symbolic images.