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Migrants being stripped of basic human rights, faculty says

Government urged to lead on basic moral grounds

File photo of a migrant in detention. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

File photo of a migrant in detention. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

The government's decision to revoke the status of migrants with temporary humanitarian protection meant they were being stripped from their basic human rights, the Faculty for Social Wellbeing has said.

It is unacceptable that in justifying legal matters, we are vetoing the humane, benevolent and charitable roots of what makes our nation, a statement signed by dean Andrew Azzopardi said.  

"Our credibility should not be measured on how strong we are with the weak but how bold we are with controlling." 

The introduction of temporary protection for migrants, known as THP-n, had represented a necessary step forward in migration reform in Malta.

Police recently rounded up a number of migrants and are keeping them in detention. Many of the detained men have been living and working in Malta for more than a decade, with most believed to be from Mali.

But the university faculty said their status had acknowledged the presence of a number of documented migrants residing in Malta who, due to circumstances beyond their control, could not return to their country of origin. Until its introduction, a cluster of migrants were denied access to basic human rights and any legitimate means of survival. The provision of THP-n provided these individuals and their families access to rights, a level of security and more importantly a regularised status.

Only corrupt employers may benefit from the presence of a legally precarious, exploitable labour force

"This policy decision will force an unacceptable and deplorable situation on migrants living in a ‘tolerated’ state. The implications of this decision go beyond the migrant community. Living in conditions of protracted limbo, pending deportation, these individuals are forced to accept exploitative employment conditions: a scenario that puts pressure on wages, particularly at the bottom end of the labour market, and represents a lose-lose situation for all workers, even the local ones.... Only corrupt employers may benefit from the presence of a legally precarious, exploitable labour force."

Tolerating or actively supporting a situation wherein the basic human rights of any individual are denied represents a dangerous precedent, Dr Azzopardi said. 

Now that Malta is to assume the EU council presidency it will be a window of opportunity for the Maltese government to take a leading role on basic moral grounds we all agree on. 

The Faculty appeals to all political parties to remain on the right side of history and do the morally justified judgements.

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