Two small boys will have to live in state care after their Turkish mothers were jailed for six months for travelling using forged documents.

Neither of the boys, aged two and four, speak Maltese or English and a team from government support agency Appoġġ is checking if they have any form of social network in Malta.

The sentencing of the mothers has been criticised as “inhumane and unjust” by NGO Moviment Graffitti, which said the courts could have chosen a community-based sanction.

Earlier this week, the two boys were heard wailing outside the courtroom as their mothers, Rabia Yavuz, 27, and Muzekka Deneri, 29, admitted to using forged travel documents.

The magistrate heard that the women, together with an Algerian and a Libyan man, were arrested at the airport on Monday. They had been travelling from Greece to Belgium via Malta when they were stopped.

The women had presented false French and Italian identity cards and one of them also had two illegal Romanian cards.

The criminal courts are being deliberately over-punitive towards the most vulnerable

Lawyer warned about traumatised children

Their lawyer, Christopher Chircop, explained that both mothers were teachers who had fled their homeland after the failed coup d’etat in 2016, seeking refuge in Greece. In a bid to avoid repatriation, they had tried to make their way to Belgium in the hope of giving their children a better life, the lawyer said.

He added that the children would be traumatised by being torn away from their mothers in an alien country, facing a language barrier and unfamiliar customs.

It was not immediately clear what would happen to the two children. However, Times of Malta is informed their mothers consented to hand their sons to the state for the duration of their sentence.

Children in state care

While not wishing to give details, for the boys’ safety, Appoġġ’s director of child protection services, Steve Libreri said they were now in alternative care.

“The toddlers will have their rights to have access to their parents secured,” he said.

“The social services, together with the psychosocial team of the Corradino Correctional Facility, will use the ongoing collaboration to ensure that adequate contact is maintained to the benefit of the two children.

“We had to act fast to find a place for the boys to stay and sort everything out. The mothers responsibly agreed to trust them with the state,” Libreri said.

Had the two mothers not consented, he added, the matter would have had to go to court to obtain a care order.

A spokesperson for Corradino Correctional Facility said social workers from the prison were working with Appoġġ to make visiting arrangements.

As the women had pleaded guilty the court, presided over by Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras, handed down the minimum sentence of a six-month jail term.

'Courts deliberately over-punitive' - Graffitti

However, Graffitti argued that the sentence was excessive, adding the children had been orphaned by the system. While the use of forged documents is punishable by jail under the Immigration Act, the NGO argued that the courts could have chosen to punish the women through community-based sanctions provided for under the Probation Act.

These include a conditional discharge, a probation order, a community service order or a combination order.

“This discriminatory use of sentencing towards migrants and asylum seekers demonstrates that the criminal courts are being deliberately over-punitive towards the most vulnerable,” Graffitti said.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us