120 persons were caught with falsified travel documents, leading to 90 prison sentences, the police have revealed.
In a statement on Friday, the police said the arrests were made by the immigration police between 2 August and 5 September at both the Malta International Airport and the Valletta harbour.
They said that 120 persons were charged in court, leading to 90 prisons sentences, varying between one to two years.
From the remaining 30, some were handed suspended sentences, and others were ordered to return to their country after being caught working with an expired visa or insufficient funds to support themselves.
The majority were from Sudan, however, there were persons from Eastern Europe, including North Macedonia, Serbia, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Brazil and countries in Asia.
“Another growing phenomenon is that of immigrants hiding in containers before they board a ship, the so-called ‘stowaways’. In this area, the immigration police worked together with Transport Malta and the security officers of the port facility, in order to find these people and take action against them. The breach of Immigration Law is taken very seriously and in most cases, the penalties involved a prison sentence,” Assistant Commissioner Neville Xuereb said.
Fake documents, an EU-wide phenomenon
The police said the use of falsified documents by people trying to escape from one country to another is not only a Maltese issue but is also reflected in other EU countries.
They said while the use of falsified documents has always been present, however, in recent weeks, it has grown unexpectedly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the numbers rising “alarmingly”.
European border agency Frontex said that in just the last two weeks, 600 falsified documents were found at borders across Europe. This they said reflected the situation in Malta.The police are also assisting authorities in the relocation processes that are currently underway.
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