A British man living and working in Malta has recounted the harrowing experience his wife underwent during a walk to work on the Sliema Strand that left her shocked, scared and confused.
Alex recounted how his wife, who is of Asian descent, was suddenly approached by two men who asked to see her “residence card”. Unsure of what to do, she pulled out her card, which they then proceeded to photograph.
Alex and his wife
“My wife was quite shaken up by the encounter, and we are both concerned that this may have been a scam, and now they have our full address and a copy of her ID,” said Alex after the incident.
His wife immediately filed a police report, but many people online sounded out some of their fears and concerns.
One post urged him to contact authorities to clarify what happened, which he did
And the official answers he got were practically as bad as his first fears
“While I’m relieved that we were not scammed, that’s quickly giving way to fury over the way my wife was treated. Because they failed to act professionally and properly demonstrate their credentials, and acted in an intimidating way, they came off looking like scammers,” said Alex once the police sergeant had confirmed that the two men were indeed immigration officials.
He lamented the officials’ attitude, but said he wasn’t expecting an official apology.
Speaking to Lovin Malta, he said that following the phone call, he was “95% convinced” that the men were immigration officers.
“Unfortunately they weren’t able to eliminate that final bit of doubt,” he said. “The person I spoke to on the phone never confirmed that those two particular guys were specifically from the ‘immigration police’. For some reason he either didn’t know or wouldn’t say,” he said.
Ironically, Alex had left the UK due to hostile policies against foreign spouses, and had turned to Malta due to the country’s hospitable reputation.
“That is pretty much the reason we came here, and to be honest, this incident aside, that’s what we’ve experienced,” he said.
Some people tried to explain the officials’ behaviour
While others recounted similar experiences
Malta’s Immigration Section does include a unit that deals with field duties and various immigration-related investigations and enquiries outside of the airport or other points of entry.
These officers can be found in plain clothes, and they do have the right to take photos of your residence or ID card. However, should this ever happen to you, you are well within your rights to ask to see the officer’s badge, which should include the officer’s name, rank, and photo.