‘Beneficiaries of protection should be able to move and work in another Member State’

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Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

‘Beneficiaries of protection with a legal right to reside in the European Union should be able to move to another EU member state in search of work,’ Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) director and lawyer Katrine Camilleri told Newsbook.com.mt.

In 2018, the Immigration Police found 950 individuals who were in Malta with a residence permit issued by another member state which included Italy, however, their stay was not in line with the Maltese legislation, the Police told Newsbook.com.mt.

Individuals that have been granted a residence permit or international protection from Italy, or any other European Member State, may remain in Malta for up to 90 days but they do not have the legal right to work or to settle permanently.

Generally, persons who have been found to overstay should return to the Member State that has granted them such permit or international protection. If a person does not return immediately, a return decision may be issued by the authorities against that person.

From January 1 until August 27, 2019, a total of 2060 migrants who were in Malta with a residence permit issued by another member state were identified by the Police, out of which 1523 individuals had documents from Italy.

Newsbook.com.mt spoke to Dr Camilleri and asked whether there should be a mechanism in place which would facilitate employment for those individuals granted protection by another member state. Dr Camilleri replied “yes” explaining that it is incoherent to respect a negative decision regarding an individual’s asylum application taken by another EU member state but not a positive one.

“A grant of protection is an acknowledgement that an individual is unable to return home safely,” Dr Camilleri explained.

JRS director added that beneficiaries of protection should be treated more favourably than other categories of migrants due to their special circumstances.

“If beneficiaries of protection, with a legal right to reside in the EU, are unable to live with dignity in the EU member state which granted them protection, they should be able to move to another EU member state in search of work,” Camilleri stated.

She further explained that such a policy would also work to alleviate to some extent the situation of families who are separated in different EU member states that do not have the possibility of family reunification, usually because of their legal status.

Speaking to Newsbook.com.mt, Dr Camilleri said that from a purely national perspective “it is counter-productive to have a situation where there are large numbers of workers who are living and working outside the protection of the law.”

The situation is not only detrimental to the individuals themselves, Camilleri explained, as individuals who are working outside the protection of the law, are at risk of exploitation and abuse, “but also for the local workforce and the country more broadly,” she concluded.