Állásfoglalásra irányuló indítvány - B6-0271/2006Állásfoglalásra irányuló indítvány
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to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission
pursuant to Rule 103(2) of the Rules of Procedure
by Jean Lambert, Kathalijne Maria Buitenweg and Hélène Flautre
on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group
on the situation in Malta

Eljárás : 2006/2558(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the situation in Malta

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in particular Article 14 thereof, in accordance with which 'Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution',

–  having regard to the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and in particular Article 31 thereof on refugees unlawfully in the country of refuge,

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights, and in particular Article 5 thereof, in accordance with which 'Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save [in the case of] the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so',

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union[1], and in particular Article 1 thereof on the inviolability of human dignity and Article 18 thereof on the right to asylum,

–  having regard to Council Directive 2003/9/EC of 27 January 2003 laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers and Council Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 of 18 February 2003 (Dublin II) establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national,

–  having regard to Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union and Article 63 of the Treaty establishing the European Community,

–  having regard to Rule 103 of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas a delegation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs went to Malta on 24 March 2006 to visit the country's administrative detention centres, and in particular the Safi, Hal Far and Lyster Barracks centres,

B.  having regard to the situation observed by members of the delegation and also reported in the Maltese press,

C.  whereas the island of Malta is situated at the European Union's southern borders, whereas it is a small island of 316 km2 with a population de 400 000 persons and a population density of 1 200 persons/km2 and whereas it clearly has limited capacity to receive and accommodate the migrants and asylum seekers who regularly land in large numbers on its shores, particularly since its accession to the European Union,

D.  whereas the annual number of persons arriving in Malta corresponds to 45% of the number of births in the country and whereas, in relative terms in relation to the population, the arrival of one person in Malta corresponds to 140 in Italy, 150 in France and 205 in Germany,

E.  whereas Malta is spending 1% of its national budget on dealing with the current situation, which can only get worse in the months and years to come,

F.  whereas Malta devotes a considerable proportion of its army and police services, amounting to more than 10% of staff, to dealing with the humanitarian emergency and managing detention and reception centres,

G.  whereas Malta is not the final destination for persons arriving on the island, who state that they wish to enter other European Union countries,

H.  whereas, however, these considerations on no account constitute grounds for keeping persons in detention for as long as 18 months and keeping asylum seekers waiting for more than eight months on average for their interview in order to obtain asylum,

I.  whereas the Maltese authorities do not have sufficient staff to process applications for asylum within a reasonable period,

J.  whereas a proportion of the people arriving in Malta come from countries at war, notably the Horn of Africa and Darfur, and whereas they cannot be sent back to their countries of origin,

K.  whereas illegal immigration and illegal entry by asylum seekers are not criminal offences, but administrative breaches,

L.  whereas the detention of asylum seekers can only be a residual measure, decided on 'individually', which must 'not affect the unalienable sphere of private life' and which must 'guarantee an adequate standard of living', as provided for in Directive 2003/9 on minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers, which entered into force on 5 February 2005,

M.  whereas residence in 'open centres' is always preferable to true detention centres, as the experience of the cities of Ceuta and Melilla shows,

N.  whereas, in the event of detention, the maximum period must not exceed a reasonable length of time, and whereas detention must only be used in the case of individuals who are to be deported or sent back to the borders, and on no account asylum seekers,

O.  whereas the growing number of migrants and asylum seekers in Malta may be one of the causes of the rise of racist and xenophobic sentiment among the Maltese population,

P.  whereas the European Union should intervene to support Malta in its efforts to manage the migratory flows, as called for by the Maltese authorities,

Q.  whereas accession to the European Union has entailed, for Malta and other small countries, difficulties in implementing Regulation 343/2003 of 18 February 2003 ('Dublin II'),

1.  Acknowledges the difficulties encountered by Malta in managing the immigration emergency of recent years resulting in particular from Malta's accession to the European Union;

2.  Expresses its solidarity with the Maltese authorities and with the police and armed forces, which are faced with a significant problem, given the size of Malta and of its population and bearing in mind that Malta is not the migrants' and asylum seekers' final destination;

3.  Welcomes the efforts to ensure transparency made by the Maltese authorities, which have allowed the delegation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and, for the first time, the press, to have free access to the centres;

4.  Strongly regrets, however, the unacceptable living conditions for migrants and asylum seekers in Malta's administrative detention centres;

5.  Calls on the Maltese authorities to apply more rigorously Directive 2003/9 on the reception of asylum seekers, particularly as regards life in the detention centres;

6.  Calls on the Maltese authorities to hold asylum seekers in 'open' centres and to only hold in 'closed' centres illegal migrants who face deportation or who are to be sent back to the borders, in accordance with international and European Union law;

7.  Firmly calls on the Maltese authorities to considerably reduce detention periods for migrants and not to systematically detain asylum seekers;

8.  Is concerned at the rise of xenophobic and racist sentiment in Malta in response to the massive influx of migrants and asylum seekers to the island;

9.  Advocates a greater role for the European Union in managing humanitarian emergencies associated with migratory flows and asylum seekers;

10.  Considers that the Member States of the European Union should show greater solidarity vis‑à‑vis Member States towards which migratory flows into the EU are directed, and calls on Member States to receive asylum seekers from Malta and other small countries into their territory, in particular using funds provided for under the ARGO programme and the European Refugee Fund 2008-2013;

11.  Calls on the Commission to propose as soon as possible the establishment of an emergency fund for dealing with humanitarian crises in the Member States;

12.  Urges the Commission to take steps as soon as possible to revise Regulation 343/2003 ('Dublin II'), calling in question its very principle, namely that the Member State responsible for processing an asylum application is the first country of entry, which places an unacceptable burden on countries in the south and east of the EU, and introducing a fair mechanism for sharing responsibilities between the Member States;

13.  Calls on the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, to ensure that the right to asylum is respected in the European Union, in accordance with Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union and Article 63 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular with Directive 2003/9/EC on the reception of asylum seekers and Directive 2004/83/EC[2] on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees;

14.  Stresses the need for a common immigration and asylum policy based on opening up legal immigration channels and laying down common standards for protection of the fundamental rights of immigrants and asylum seekers throughout the European Union, as set out by the Tampere European Council in 1999 and confirmed by the Hague programme;

15.  Calls on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to monitor the measures to be taken by the Maltese authorities in order to rectify the situation and comply with asylum law, as well as the necessary legislative measures at the European level;

16.  Also calls on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to continue the work of verifying living conditions in detention centres in the European Union begun by it in Lampedusa, Ceuta and Melilla, Paris and Malta and wherever necessary in the rest of the European Union;

17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.