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Protection granted to Libyans is in line with laws – ministry

Libyans protesting in Malta calling for the removal of chargé d’affaires Muhammad El-Ghirani. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Libyans protesting in Malta calling for the removal of chargé d’affaires Muhammad El-Ghirani. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The Refugee Commission relies on objective information and recommendations by the UNHCR when granting protection to Libyans, the Home Affairs Ministry said in reaction to calls by the chargé d’affaires to be more stringent when granting asylum.

Reliable country of origin information is an essential resource

“I would like the new Government to take steps, be stricter and not give asylum to every Libyan,” Muhammad El-Ghirani had told Times of Malta in April after a group of Libyans called for his removal.

He had described these pro­testers as troublemakers who expected the embassy to be a sort of employment agency that dished out jobs and money.

When contacted, the Home Affairs Ministry said that, in its quest to determine applications for international protection, the Office of the Refugee Commissioner within the ministry relies on objective and impartial information related to the circumstances in the country of origin.

“Reliable country of origin information is an essential resource to establish whether there is a reasonable possibility that the person would be at risk if they were returned to their respective country.”

Dr El-Ghirani had also complained that, although there are about 3,000 Libyans in Malta, he does not see the best of them.

The ministry said that active cases concluded by the office since January 2011 include 16 refugee status, 20 subsidiary protection status, 37 temporary humanitarian protection status, 18 provisional humanitarian protection and five rejections.

Refugee and subsidiary protection status is granted to Libyan nationals who meet criteria set out in the 1951 Geneva Convention and the Refugee Act, and the office strictly abides by this legislation, the spokesman said.

The office also follows humanitarian protection recommendations by UNHCR about the Libyan revolution which erupted in February 2011.

Although the civil war officially came to an end in October 2011 with the demise of Muammar Gaddafi, violence is still rife in the country.

Libyans who do not meet the refugee or subsidiary protection status criteria are being granted temporary humanitarian protection based on UNHCR’s paper issued in February 2011 and updated the following month called Protection Considerations with Regards to people fleeing from Libya.

In this position paper, UNHCR recommends that there should be no enforced returns to Libya and that Libyan nationals should be granted temporary protection until the situation in the country settles down.

To date, UNHCR has not up­dated or reviewed this position.

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