New briefing highlights improvements needed in Malta to address and prevent statelessness

27 Feb 2019 / Detention / International and Regional Instruments / Malta / Prevention and reduction / Statelessness determination and status / Statelessness population data

The European Network on Statelessness (ENS) has worked with its member aditus foundation to research and compile comparative information on statelessness in Malta as part of the Statelessness Index – an online tool which allows instant comparison of how different countries protect people without a nationality. aditus foundation is a human rights NGO which monitors, acts and reports on access to fundamental human rights by individuals and groups, focusing primarily on Malta but also addressing EU institutions, the UN, the Council of Europe and other relevant agencies.

A new briefing developed by ENS and aditus foundation summarises key information from the Index on how Maltese law, policy and practice performs against international norms and good practice on the protection of stateless persons and the prevention and reduction of statelessness. It makes a series of recommendations to the Maltese Government for reform in priority areas.

Summary of key findings and recommendations

Malta is not state party to any of the core statelessness conventions and retains significant reservations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Disaggregated population data on statelessness is limited and is not systematically recorded across government agencies.

There is no mechanism to identify or determine statelessness in Malta, or a dedicated protection status for stateless people. There are some protections against arbitrary detention of stateless people. However, a country of removal does not need to be explicitly identified prior to detention and statelessness is not considered to be a juridically relevant fact in decisions to detain. There are some safeguards in Maltese law and policy to prevent statelessness, but implementation is problematic and there are some gaps. For example, there is a non-automatic provision in the Citizenship Act for children born stateless in Malta to acquire citizenship after five years' residence but there is no information available about how proof of the child/person's statelessness is required or evidenced.

The briefing provides recommendations for the Maltese Governments to address these gaps, including accession to the core statelessness conventions. It recommends improving the recording of statelessness by harmonising and defining statistical categories used by different agencies, counting stateless individuals in the national census, and ensuring that registration officials are trained to accurately identify and record statelessness. The briefing promotes establishing in law a Statelessness Determination Procedure and protection status in line with international norms and standards and establishing a referral mechanism to this procedure to protect stateless persons from arbitrary detention.

To address discrimination in the acquisition of nationality and practical barriers to birth registration, the briefing advises amending the law so that all children born in Malta who would otherwise be stateless acquire nationality at birth, regardless of the status of their parents. It further suggests amending the law in line with the 2011 European Court of Human Rights judgement and implementing national campaigns and promotion activities on birth registration.

By drawing together the key findings from the Statelessness Index data and providing a set of recommendations for reform, this new country briefing provides a clear way forward to improve the protection of stateless people and the prevention and reduction of statelessness in Malta.

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