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Ivorian Man Released From Months Of Illegal Detention, But Human Rights Group Aditus Warn Of Hundreds More

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Human rights lawyers from aditus have helped an Ivorian man, detained without reason for 144 days, out of unlawful detention.

While their efforts have been successful, the organisation warned that Safi and Lyster Barracks are “packed with men who are in a similar situation: detained illegally in terrible conditions”.

The Ivorian man was rescued at sea on 7th June, and was immediately escorted to the Safi detention centre, even after applying for asylum status a week after his arrival.

Despite being kept for 144 days, no reason was ever given for his prolonged detention.

Assistant Commissioner Neville Xuereb also declared the man was not detained by immigration police nor did the Superintendent for Public Health representative find any medical grounds for his detainment.

Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras repeatedly warned that it was the seventh time that year that the court faced similar cases of unlawful detention.

She ordered his immediate release after upholding lawyer Neil Falzon’s application.

“It confirms what we have repeatedly stressed: Malta may not use illegal means to deal with its immigration concerns, Falzon continued. “We urge the Home Affairs Minister to take immediate action to stop this inhumanity at once.”

Tensions have been rising in Malta’s detention and open centres, with protests, riots and people trying to enter and leave with falsified passports becoming more regular.

According to the UN’s refugee agency in Malta, a total of 1,699 people were rescued at sea and disembarked in the country throughout the first six months of 2020.

This translates to a 33% increase in arrivals when comparing figures of the same period last year, despite Malta’s closure of ports from April to June to fight COVID-19.

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