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Malta Immigration Detention

Officials in Malta have argued that unauthorized migration to the country has reached an “emergency scale” and that there is a “national crisis” with respect to administrative detention. When Maltese officials refer to this “crisis,” they argue that Malta represents an exceptional case due to its small size, high population density, and extensive maritime borders. To cope with boat arrivals Malta applies a form of mandatory detention which, although unique among EU countries, has some similarities to the policy pursued by Australia. Once undocumented non-citizens are issued removal orders, they are automatically subject to detention. Authorities claim that immigration detention is a “powerful deterrent” and serves as a form of punishment. As one government minister put it, “The message needs to … be received by everyone that entering Malta illegally will not go unpunished."

Malta Quick Facts

  • Immigration detainees:
    1,500
    Immigration detention capacity:
    720
    Persons expelled :
    570
    International migrants:
    34,500
    New asylum applications :
    2,211