One in three sub-Saharan Africans who were stopped by the Maltese police reported disrespectful treatment, according to a survey by the EU’s agency for fundamental rights (FRA).

Still, this minority group in Malta is among those with the highest levels of trust in the police, the Europe-wide data shows.

The findings of FRA’s second minorities and discrimination survey since 2008 underline the need for stronger measures to provide legal protection against discrimination, coupled with effective sanctions.

FRA conducts surveys to assist European member states in developing evidence-based policies to combat social exclusion and discrimination, as well as to promote free and pluralist societies and social justice.

Today’s publication points to persisting, widespread discrimination, intolerance and hatred across the EU that threaten to marginalise and alienate many minority group members who otherwise feel attached to the country they live in and trust its institutions.

As with other FRA surveys, the high level of under-reporting indicates how stronger outreach is needed to encourage victims to report incidents, while law enforcement and bodies need the right tools to deal with these reports effectively.

According to the findings, a majority of all respondents who were stopped by the police in the five years before the survey said they were treated respectfully.

However, every third stopped respondent with a sub-Saharan African background in Malta and Denmark, and of Turkish background in the Netherlands, noted disrespectful treatment by the police.

Meanwhile, the results show that on average, respondents across the target groups (except for Roma) tend to trust the police and the local authori­ties where they live more than other institutions.

The highest levels of trust in the police are observed among respondents of sub-Saharan African background in Finland, Malta and Germany, among others.

Meanwhile, when questioned about their awareness of at least one equality body, the majority of respondents were not aware of any such entity – although results vary by target group and country.

The best-known equality bodies are in Ireland, Denmark and the UK, where more than half of the respondents are aware of at least one.

In other countries, the proportion of respondents who know equality bodies is low – in Spain (six per cent), Malta (nine per cent) and Slovenia (10 per cent).

When asked about anti-discrimination legislation in their country of residence, respondents on average showed high awareness, although results differ consider­ably across target groups and countries – ranging from 81 per cent of respondents in France knowing of such a law to 18 per cent of respondents in Malta.

The report also shines a light on current residence status. Among respondents from Sub-Saharan Africa, the vast majority of those living in Ireland (87 per cent) and the UK (86 per cent) hold citizenship of their country of residence or a long-term resi­dence permit.

This percentage is considerably lower among the same target group in Malta (two per cent), Aus­tria (17 per cent), Portugal (39 per cent) and Italy (40 per cent).

Aditus Foundation is Malta’s national FRA contractor.