On 23 July 2013, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled in Aden Ahmed v Malta that immigration detention conditions in Malta violated Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), i.e. the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment. This is the first time that Malta is condemned on this ground in relation to detention. The Court found that Maltese authorities failed to take account of the female applicant’s vulnerability, emotional and health conditions when detaining her, as well as to take steps towards her removal, resulting in 14 and a half months unlawful detention, without any access to speedy review of the lawfulness of her detention.
The ECtHR also condemned Malta on detention conditions coupled with the duration of the applicant’s detention (violation of Article 5§1 ECHR) and the absence of a speedy judicial review (violation of Article 5§4 ECHR) in the case of Suso Musa v Malta. The Court explicitly considers that “general measures at the national level are undoubtedly called for in execution of the judgment” meaning that Malta needs to adopt new measures to improve the conditions for detained asylum seekers and secure in the domestic legal order a mechanism allowing them to obtain speedy review of the lawfulness of their detention in order to obtain a determination of their claim within a reasonable time-limits.
The ECtHR also issued a judgment in the case of M.A. v Cyprus, in which it ruled that the applicant was denied an effective remedy with automatic suspensive effect to challenge the his deportation (Article 13 juncto Articles 2 and 3 ECHR), as well as a violation of his right to liberty and security, due to the unlawfulness of the applicant’s immigration detention without access to an effective remedy to challenge the lawfulness of his detention (Article 5§1 and §4 ECHR).