A Ghanaian migrant who was facing deportation from Malta took his own life on Saturday after he was forced to “feel like a criminal” by a new immigration policy in that country.
The Times of Malta reports that, Frederick Ofosu, 33, was found strangled with an electric cable in a Qawra building site on Saturday night.
He left a recorded message for friends explaining his despair, saying he was being forced to feel like a criminal when he had done no wrong, according to Ahmed Bugri, director for the Foundation for Shelter and Support for Migrants.
Dr Bugri who identified the victim together with a Ghanaian embassy official, said the government’s decision to review the so-called THPn system had forced him to the edge.
However, the Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela said the victim had applied for assisted voluntary return scheme to return to Ghana last September.
His return process could not be concluded because there were other pending court cases.
Mr Abela said that in 2013 and 2014 the victim had applied for the so-called Temporary Humanitarian Protection-New (THPn) status but the Refugee Commissioner had turned it down.
There are an estimated 1,200 migrants who fall under THPnto failed asylum seekers.
In November, the Home Affairs Ministry suspended the renewal of those holding THPn status, a move which incensed human rights organizations.
Migrants who fall into this category have been given until October 31 to start making arrangements to procure all the required documentation from their country of origin.
But human rights organizations say the scheme will require hundreds to comply with requirements the ministry knows they are unable to meet, including procurement of identification documentation and the labour market test.
Mr Ofosu came to Malta eight years, leaving Ghana because of extreme poverty. He worked for a number of years, but after he lost his job he was faced with a number of demands from the authorities, including documentation he could never provide, Dr Bugri said.
Last year, Mr Ofosu was handed a one-year suspended sentence by the court after pleading guilty to causing damage to a St Paul’s Bay apartment.
Looming in a world of indecision, and driven to despair amid rising rents, many migrants are now resorting to drastic measures, Dr Bugri warned, adding there had been a rise in admissions to Mount Carmel mental hospital.
“Frederick’s death has sent shockwaves among the migrant community, especially in Marsa. It will traumatise those that aren’t stable.”
Maria Pisani, director of Integra Foundation underlined the ticking bomb.
“Where individuals had some semblance of stability and security, they have now been thrown into chaos, and live in constant fear that they may be returned to the country that they fled.”
Dr Pisani said the case of Malians who were detained for three months before being released last week, demonstrated the complexity of returns.
“Not everyone can access documents, and so they are being condemned to this limbo – a state of foreboding and fear.”
“We simply cannot allow this to continue to happen. Forcing people to live in constant fear is inhumane and for some, a death sentence.”