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HomeAsiaRights groups consider legal steps in case of Uyghurs facing deportation in...

Rights groups consider legal steps in case of Uyghurs facing deportation in Malta

'Quick read' news summary

Two human rights groups instrumental in getting the European Court of Human Rights to order Malta to halt the forcible deportation of two Muslim Chinese asylum-seekers of Uyghur ethnicity are now strategizing with lawyers about their next move.

“We together with the lawyers will evaluate the rest of the procedures to be followed, which may be a full application to the European Court—maybe. There might be other avenues, but we are discussing that,” said Laura Harth, campaign director at the Spanish humanitarian group Safeguard Defenders, which learned about the two Uyghurs in August 2022. She did not elaborate on the possible options.

Safeguard Defenders and the Maltese NGO Aditus Foundation have taken up the case of the married couple who arrived in Malta in 2016 and applied for international protection because of the danger of persecution they faced back in China based on their ethnicity and religion. 

After authorities denied their application in 2017, they went into hiding in the country and were issued a return decision and removal order on Aug. 1, 2022. 

The couple raised a claim based on the non-refoulement principle, which states that no one should be returned to a country where they would face persecution, violence or death. 

But the authorities rejected it on Jan. 12.

The next day, the two rights groups filed an application with the court under Rule 39 for urgent interim measures against Malta, a European Union member state.

The move came a day after the Maltese Immigration Appeals Board’s final rejection of the couple’s appeal for humanitarian

Two human rights groups instrumental in getting the European Court of Human Rights to order Malta to halt the forcible deportation of two Muslim Chinese asylum-seekers of Uyghur ethnicity are now strategizing with lawyers about their next move. There might be other avenues, but we are discussing that,” said Laura Harth, campaign director at the Spanish humanitarian group Safeguard Defenders, which learned about the two Uyghurs in August 2022. The next day, the two rights groups filed an application with the court under Rule 39 for urgent interim measures against Malta, a European Union member state.

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