A decision to deport more than 40 non-EU national children, thereby separating them from their parents, goes against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), according to the Anti-Poverty Forum Malta. 

APF Malta was referring to the pending appeal filed by the parents after they were told by Identity Malta they can no longer keep their children here, since they do not have enough money to sustain them.

The government entity sent out letters just before Christmas last year refusing the residence permits of the children who are as young as two years old.

According to the agency, their parents do not satisfy the financial requirements of a policy, which requires third-country nationals to earn €19,000 a year, as well as €3,800 extra for each child. The figures do not include bonuses or overtime.

Their future still hangs in the balance waiting to see whether their deportation from Malta will be revoked or not on appeal.

In a statement, the Anti-Poverty Forum Malta said that besides the psychological trauma experienced by the children, a decision to separate the children from their parents breaches Article 9 of the UNCRC. This states that a child or young person should not be separated from their parents unless staying with their parents could be harmful to them, or it’s impossible for them to stay with their parents.

It said a child or young person may be separated from a parent if that parent is not able to take care of them; if that parent is acting in a way that is not in that child or young person's best interests or if the parent is unable to keep that child safe and happy. 

APF Malta, which is a platform of 13 local organisations working to eradicate poverty and social exclusion, said that some employers had already taken immediate corrective measures to improve the situation of these foreign employees so that the children do not suffer separation from parents.

It said that although the unemployment rate in Malta is amongst the lowest in the EU, salaries are not always in line with economic growth. In 2018 and 2019, the economic rates have reached high levels, even surpassing the average growth of the EU, impacting negatively on the cost of essential items.  

“Economic growth cannot come at the cost of workers’ dignity. Adopting the right policies will help those who are struggling to have a decent living in Malta. APF Malta hopes that the trauma experienced by both these children and their parents serve as an eye-opener to policy-makers, regulators and employers,” it said, adding that it supported all NGOs, politicians and other individuals who are putting pressure to make sure these children are kept united with their families in a safe environment. 

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