A total of 167 foreign nationals were repatriated after serving a prison sentence in Malta during the last five years, figures released in Parliament show.
Figures tabled by Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri in reply to a parliamentary question by Ivan Bartolo show that 27 were repatriated in 2015, 21 in 2016 and 31 in 2017. The number spiked up to 54 in 2018, but went down to 34 the following year.
Meanwhile, the number of foreign prison inmates increased year after year during this period. The number stood at 236 at the end of 2015, 248 in 2016, 265 in 2017 and 282 in 2018.
The number nearly doubled to 531 by the end of last year: Dr Camilleri said that this increase was partly due to 128 asylum seekers who were jailed over unrest in detention centres.
An increase in the number of asylum seekers arriving in Malta last year had led to overcrowding in the army-run detention centres in Safi and Ħal Far, inflaming tensions. Last October, a Court had ruled that the detention of six asylum seekers at the Safi Barracks was unlawful, as their presence in Malta became regular and lawful once they applied for asylum.