2018 saw some improvement in Malta, but significant concerns about law, policy and practice on the protection of stateless people and prevention of statelessness remain.
At the end of 2018, a new regularisation route was introduced for people refused asylum who are unable to leave the country - some of whom may be stateless – provided they have lived in the country for five years and can meet other conditions. The new ‘SRA’ status gives individuals and their family members access to a two-year residence permit and a range of socio-economic rights. However, this positive change does little to address one of the root causes of people ending up in irregularity: the lack of a procedure to identify and determine statelessness and grant stateless people the rights due to them under the 1954 Convention. Malta remains one of only four EU member states yet to accede to the Convention.
Further steps are also needed to protect stateless people from arbitrary detention, and to prevent and reduce statelessness in Malta. The safeguard granting stateless children born in Malta a conditional right to acquire nationality does not prevent statelessness in all cases and has still not been implemented in practice; and provisions relating to conferral of nationality by descent that were ruled discriminatory by the European Court of Human Rights in 2011 remain in place.
Other new information added to the Index in 2018 includes updated population data, and information on law, policy and practice relating to the withdrawal of nationality. Although renunciation of Maltese nationality is only possible if someone holds another nationality, deprivation of nationality is permitted in certain circumstances where it could lead to statelessness.
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