The story of two young boys separated from their mothers and taken into state care last week, after their mothers pleaded guilty to forging travel documents has sparked widespread anger.
The mothers landed in Malta with their sons, aged two and four, while on route to Belgium, trying to escape political persecution in their home country, Turkey.
The mothers were caught at the airport with forged ID cards and sentenced to six months in prison.
Experts say the decision to jail the mothers and to separate them from their children seriously breaches Malta’s international obligations to protect children and political refugees.
“At a young age, these children have an enormous bond with their mothers, and should have never been separated from them, especially when they are in a foreign country with people they don’t know and a language they can’t understand,” says international human rights law practitioner John Pace.
“This is not about the law. Anyone who is a mother or a father, a son or a daughter, must feel how unjust this is. We shouldn’t have come to this.”
This is a brief account how it all happened.