Maltese people have low awareness of human rights and a lack of critical thinking, a report compiled by human rights organisations noted. 

The report, presented to the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child, associated this with a dogmatic education system that “fails to encourage or coax students into independent thinking”. 

This also did not encourage students to share thoughts and views without fear of repercussions, it noted. The report by the Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta (PHROM) also said identification of potentially trafficked children remained a concern, particularly in relation to migrant children.

“An effective procedure for identification of victims of human trafficking [by the authorities] should be implemented,” PHROM's submission to the UN CRC's 81st session, said.

Member organisations were also concerned at the possibility of migrant children being vulnerable to trafficking because of their social, legal and economic situations. A lack of measures to respond to unaccompanied children going missing was also noted. 

“There is a need to increase efforts to provide assistance and support, such as safe and appropriate housing, legal assistance and residence documents, to all victims of trafficking, including children,” the report said.

It also highlighted that the current system for the care of unaccompanied minors was inadequate. Current arrangements fail to ensure the appointment of legal guardians with enough expertise in asylum issues, it said. 

|At present, appointed legal guardians were also the social workers responsible for the children, the report said, adding that the “necessary distinction” between the two roles was also blurred. 

This meant that each legal guardian was responsible for a relatively large number of unaccompanied minors because of resource limitations, leading to a possible negative impact on the quality of the service offered.

The report also flagged concerns on housing, noting that Malta had no regulation in the rental market. 

“Skyrocketing rent prices over the last few years are hitting vulnerable groups the hardest, such as pensioners and low-income groups, including children and youth,” it warned. 

It noted the country still lacked a comprehensive housing policy that sought to ensure the availability of affordable housing, whether for purchase or rental.

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